Author Archive

Panajotis Kondylis and the obsoleteness of conservatism (Paul Gottfried)

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Panajotis Kondylis (1943-), a Greek scholar who lives in Heidelberg and writes in German, may be, unbeknownst to himself, one of the great conservative thinkers of our age. Describing Kondylis as a conservative might leave him and his readers puzzled. His five-hundred page work Conservatism (1986) examines “the historical content and decline” of its subject. For Kondylis, conservatism had already declined in the last century as a major political force. It was the ideal of an essentially medieval hierarchical society defended by landed aristocrats and their intellectual followers. What Americans have usually presented as conservative values, Kondylis explains, belongs to a “bourgeois world of thought.” Indeed the historical constructions of American traditionalists have been at most attempts to “exalt an older conceptual legacy and a long dead way of life against the newest developments in the direction of a consumerist mass democracy.”[1] Kondylis cites Russell Kirk and the Southern Agrarians as examples of this tendency to conjure up an ideal organic past in a society that has always been nearer to mass democracy than it has to European traditionalism.

Kondylis identifies himself with Marxism, broadly understood. In a recent essay, “Marxism, Communism, and the History of the Twentieth Century,” Kondylis offers this revealing opinion: “The planetary social project of Communism failed not because of moral or economic inferiority but because the national power of Russia encountered the superior national power of the United States.” Furthermore, “Never before has the Marxist view of history been as true and current as it is now in the initial phase of a planetary history,” particularly in determining social relations and the “ideological” forms that they take.[2] In my German correspondence with him, Kondylis makes the point that, unlike me, “he stands far closer to Marx than to [the German legal thinker] Carl Schmitt.”[3] His detailed analysis of social class and of ideological consciousness as reflected in culture point back to Marx and to the twentieth-century Marxist interpreter of intellectual history, George Lukacs. Kondylis underlines these connections whenever he can.

His transparent dislike for the United States and its current devotion to “human rights” may offend some American patriots. He reduces the American faith in democracy and in universal rights to an instrument of national power. In a caustic piece for the Frankfurter Rundschau (August 18, 1996), “Human Rights: Conceptual Confusion and Political Instrumentalization,” he notes that the United States speaks of human rights in the context of international affairs, not as a replacement for its own national laws that still distinguish between citizens and non-citizens: “No state can grant all of humanity the same rights–e.g., rights of settlement and voting–without ceasing to exist.” For the American government, “human rights are a political tool within a planetary context whose density requires the use of universalist ideologies; within this framework, however, great nations continue to determine the binding interpretation of those same constructs.”[4] Kondylis dislikes not only Americans for what he perceives as political hypocrisy but for their consumerist mentality. He has editorialized against the corrupting effect of American hedonism, which he thinks is now infecting Europeans.

Kondylis’s brief against the United States occasionally descends into superficial generalization. “Human rights” ideology is by no means accepted by all Americans; and contrary to what Kondylis asserts, “human rights” ideologues are willing to blur the distinction between the rights of citizens and of noncitizens. Recent judicial decisions that bear on the “rights” of illegal aliens have interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment as establishing universally binding human rights. Meanwhile, advocates of a human rights-based foreign policy, like the editorial boards of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, have been equally zealous in upholding an expansionist immigration policy. Conversely, American nationalists on the Old Right have been both isolationists and critics of “human rights.”[5] As for the assurance given that “economic inferiority” had nothing to do with the disintegration of the Soviet empire, this particular statement is never demonstrated. Kondylis goes on to speak of the “superior national power of the United States,” which may be another way of referring to the working economy of the U.S., as opposed to the fatally paralyzed one of the former Soviet Union.[6]

Despite Kondylis’s Marxist self-labeling and distaste for the United States, one can find in him an identifiable man of the Right. But the Right to which Kondylis belongs is not the European counterpart of the American Right-Center, made up of pro-business supporters of a democratic welfare state and of a consumer economy. Like the intellectual movement called the European New Right, which often quotes him, Kondylis stresses the merits of traditional community, which he believes to be threatened by American mass democracy and American economic expansion. Unfortunately, antiAmericanism has become instinctive for many on the European Right.[7] I say “unfortunately” not because this sentiment is never justified. I think it often is, given the human rights and globalist triumphalism of American state department spokesmen and journalists and the moral pollution produced by our entertainment industry. But anti-Americanism gets in the way of understanding our current political context. Much of what the European New Right blames on the American people are recent developments, such as crusades for human rights with an often changing content; while what is perceived as quintessentially American is equally characteristic of other Western societies. Here a sense of historical change may be necessary. For example, Southern planters and the Northeastern merchant class of the midnineteenth century were far removed from late twentieth-century mass democracy. They were in fact as far removed from it as the world of Palmerston and Disraeli was from the social democratic and multicultural England which I visited last year.

Note that the Marxism that Kondylis expounds is highly selective and without the egalitarian and “utopian” aspects of the original product. Kondylis praises Marx and some Marxists for looking behind ideologies for the social and/or political interests which they incarnate. Like Marx, he considers “ideology” to be “false,” a shared body of social and cultural attitudes which distorts historical reality, willfully or unwittingly. Kondylis mocks ethicists for packaging as “human rights” the interests of empires or the political ambitions of particular intellectuals. For Kondylis, such ethicizing conceals a will to power or the force of an expanding consumer economy. But Kondylis rarely seizes on the terms “ideologeme” or “false consciousness” when he analyzes the restorationist thought of the early and mid-nineteenth century. Although a sound argument can be made that Joseph de Maistre, Friedrich Stahl, and Le Comte de Bonald were defending a dying European order against a rising bourgeois society, Kondylis discusses such counter revolutionaries with profound respect. Not all of the foredoomed battles in his work or in his view of world history are traced to “false consciousness,” and it may be observed that the closer he gets to the modern era of “mass democracy,” planetary politics, and a consumerist culture the more Kondylis talks about dishonest ideologues.

This selectiveness may be partly the result of ingrained attitudes. Though a visceral anti-American fond of Marxist terminology, Kondylis has no use for mass democracy and its cultural and economic accompaniments. Sprung from an illustrious Greek family that produced both statesmen and military officers, he remains proud of his own antecedents. As he explained, with self-deprecation in a letter to me, unlike other Kondylises who accomplished much, “all he has managed to do is write long books in German.” His books, by the way, are not only long but recondite, written in exceedingly dense prose and marked by tortuous explications.

This stylistic difficulty and his questionable generalizations about Americans to the contrary notwithstanding, Kondylis reveals two strengths that American conservatives would do well to imitate. One, he contextualizes ideas, without reducing them to mere epiphenomena of other historical forces. Kondylis grasps the necessary relation between cultural and moral ideals and the social and political configurations in which they develop. He demonstrates the disintegration of a conservative vision, one based on fixed orders with corresponding duties and privileges, in a society then undergoing critical changes, namely urbanization and the Industrial Revolution. Those who wished to represent an already superannuated conservative vision lost their social base and were forced to modify their public stance to include bourgeois ideals.

In this modified conservative view that emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century, defenders of medieval hierarchy and civil order made common cause against revolt from below. They and bourgeois liberals opposed democratic revolutionaries and socialist reformers. In this alliance, however, the truly conservative vision of order became increasingly vestigial.[8] The major lines of division were thereafter between “bourgeois modernity” and “mass democratic postmodernity,” a topic minutely discussed in Kondylis’s book The Decline of the Bourgeois Form of Thought and Life (1991).[9] Social visions remain competitive, Kondylis reminds his reader, for only as long as they are tied to a dominant or powerful class. Once that class is overwhelmed by political or material changes, its ideas inevitably fall out of favor. Though Kondylis points out the historical precondition for the predominance of what he as well as Richard Weaver calls a “vision of order,” he does not relativize all such visions. From his descriptions it is clear that Kondylis favors the restorationist thought of the early nineteenth century over the liberal bourgeois Denkformen that replaced it. Despite his attempted detachment in surveying the end of mass democracy, Kondylis despises the disorder and boundless self-indulgence which he associates with the postmodern age.

He presents mass democracy as a total way of life that develops in a favorable political and economic climate. He does not use the term simply to express contempt for what he dislikes. Nor does he try to reduce mass democracy to a side effect of some material transformation, for example, by treating it as a byproduct of industrial growth or of the shifting of population toward cities. Kondylis does note certain political and economic preconditions for the rise of mass democracy, most particularly universal suffrage, material abundance, and the identification of self-government with public administration. But he also stresses its cultural and intellectual presuppositions. Among those that preoccupy him are the avant-garde artistic movements of the early twentieth century and the kind of experimental theater that began shortly thereafter. Unlike the Marxist Lukacs, who viewed such movements as sources of bourgeois amusement, Kondylis interprets them as the beginnings of a cultural war. Artists and playwrights collaborated in bringing down the bourgeois liberal world. For they despised precisely what it exalted, social constraint, rationally comprehensible art, and a coherent view of life and civic responsibility.

In their place Western society received a highly subjective, self-expressive, and ideologically inflammatory culture. Once this became wed to material hedonism, the erosion of identity, and a fixation on total equality, Kondylis maintains, a mass democratic world view established itself.[10] Kondylis points to the cultural components of this world view as omens of postmodernism. Rather than identifying this phenomenon exclusively with the most recent assaults on fixed or received meanings, Kondylis argues that postmodernism has been extensive with the entire mass democratic age.[11] The relativization of meaning is only the latest strategy for advancing social equality and for evacuating nondemocratic opinions associated with an elitist past.

Mass democracy, as interpreted by Kondylis, is also a global process. Moving from the West where it supplanted “an oligarchic and hierarchical bourgeois liberalism,” it is now “merging with a planetary landscape,” in which Marxism and Communism have become the preparatory phases in a mass democratic end of history.[12] Unlike the liberal age it ended or the Communism it surpassed in material productiveness, mass democratic society both proclaims and works toward providing material gratification. In a secularized and dehierarchical setting, it does what Marxist socialism promised but only occasionally could produce. Here Marx, according to Kondylis, offered a partially accurate prediction but grafted onto it a happy historical ending that is unlikely to come to pass. Marx “had clung to the idea of a normative-eschatological unification of world history” and “had explained this unitary character of a planetary event through social and economic factors while drawing appropriate political conclusions [from his assumptions].”But this unitary world history which Marx saw as tied to economic modernization is also intensifying the war against social cohesion, in the name of individual gratification and universal sameness. Kondylis observes the irony that the struggle against Communism, “fought not least of all for liberal ideals,” has resulted in the victory of a postliberal society, one whose dissimilarity from the bourgeois age is greater than the distance that had separated Europe before the French Revolution from the Europe of the late nineteenth century. This exemplifies the ideological misrepresentation that Kondylis believes characterizes the promoters of mass democracy. They insist on a fictional continuity with the liberal past.[13]

Kondylis’s contextualization of conservative, liberal, and mass democratic world views and his detailed analysis of mass democracy carries implications that he spells out for would-be conservatives. The term “conservative” is now being applied, he explains in an essay, “The Archaic Character of Political Concepts,” to those who have nothing to do with an agrarian aristocratic society and less and less to do with a bourgeois liberal order. Kondylis finds it useless to define conservatives as “those who defend existing institutions, no matter what they happen to be.”[14] He mocks journalists and academics who indiscriminately apply “conservative” to Chancellor Kohl or to Russian insurgents. They are accused of the same semantic opportunism as those who use “liberal” not to describe the “economic and constitutional conceptions of the European bourgeois but the right to abortion or an unlimited right to asylum.”Least of all does Kondylis accept the Marxist practice, common during the Cold War, of designating the anti-Communist West as “conservative.” Such a designation is unsuited for a “system which has revolutionized productive forces to an unprecedented extent and which places at the disposal of individuals material and mental possibilities that represent an astonishing and world-historical novum.”[15]

Kondylis believes that a conservative politics in the sense that he understands that concept can no longer be fruitfully pursued. The socio-political context for this orientation was already disappearing by the late nineteenth century, and a similar fate overtook bourgeois liberalism, which gave way to mass democracy. Moreover, the mass democratic system that Kondylis analyzes embraces politics, the economy, ethical reasoning, and the arts. It permeates and shapes human relations and expectations, and, despite its war against most of the Western heritage, is now held to be the crowning achievement of Western democratic peoples. It also condemns and dissolves traditional gender, social, and ethnic distinctions, and, ethically and economically, prepares the way for a global society of uprooted and increasingly indistinguishable individuals. Whether or not one accepts Kondylis’s view of the United States as the vital source of this mass democratic empire, what he describes in any case is too monolithic and popular to be effectively opposed by eighteenth- or nineteenth-century visionaries.

Inasmuch as Kondylis makes fun of political labels “with changing contents,” it is hard to imagine that he would take seriously any conservatism anchored in mass democracy. While an ambitious politician or political journalist might find reasons to praise this state of affairs, their reasoning, he would conclude, has nothing to do with conservatism. Those who exalt “human rights” and call for open borders and global democracy may be taking positions that help their careers and make them part of a respectable opposition. But nothing substantive separates them from other boosters of mass democracy or links them to either classical conservatism or bourgeois liberalism. There is also no evidence that such “conservatism” slows down the dynamism of mass democracy. At most, “moderate” mass democrats may create procedural obstacles that prevent democratic change from moving more quickly; in other situations, however, they may accelerate that change by their devotion to multinational corporations and by their dislike for national and regional differences.

In contrast to the bogus, would-be conservatisms that Kondylis finds in the postmodern age, he does view the counterrevolutionary Right as a genuine alternative to mass democracy. But this Right offers not a “conservative” alternative to the present age but a force of resistance to radical change: “the distinguishing characteristic of the Right consists of its willingness to suspend political liberalism for the sake of protecting economic liberalism and private property against leftist assault. In this sense the Right belongs to liberalism, however much the ‘enlightened’ segment of the bourgeois might show embarrassment about this connection.”[16] In one crucial respect this authoritarian Right does resemble the counterrevolutionary conservatism of the early nineteenth century: in its willingness to impose “provisional dictatorship” to prevent “the overthrow of existing institutions through a revolutionary sovereign dictatorship.” The distinction between “commissarial” and “sovereign” dictatorship, one that suspends legality (as in the case of Peru) in order to restore it in peaceful conditions and one that supplants a constitutional order by force, is taken from the work of Carl Schmitt, a legal theorist who defended precisely the kind of authoritarian Right that Kondylis describes.[17] But such a Right, which may take over because of a Communist threat or because of the radicalization of mass democracy, can lurch out of hand. It may culminate in the sometimes irresponsible violence unleashed by a military coup or in the kind of substantive “national revolution” sought by idealistic Italian fascists. In either case the socio-economic upheaval wrought by these events or later reactions to them will far surpass whatever order is brought by provisional dictatorship.

In other cases, alluded to by Kondylis, the “authoritarian dominance of the Right” has “created the institutional framework for modernization and industrialization in a capitalist direction, to the exclusion of socialist experiments.”[18] But these charges have sometimes led, as in the case of Spain, to the establishment of a mass democratic culture. Social democracy, a consumer society, “human rights” ideology and a disintegrating nuclear family have all followed once a welfare state and modern economy have been established. Pointing these problems out is not the same as deploring twentieth-century technology or exaggerating the benevolence of landed aristocrats or Victorian merchants. It is to state a causal connection between postmodernity in its social, political, and cultural forms and a progressive vanishing of inherited identities, civil society, as opposed to the state and economy, parental authority, and anything once understood to be “tradition.” Kondylis believes that what has caused this situation is not the failure of public administrators to teach “values” or of manufacturers to promote “democratic capitalism.” For him, the problems are systemic and lie in the fit between human appetites and changing institutional arrangements. They are also rooted in what Kondylis sees as the inevitability of struggle as the human condition. In the planetary age, people are fighting over resources but do so while appealing to the human rights slogans invented by intellectuals and the media.[19]

Kondylis claims to be pursuing value-free science and stresses the distinction by nineteenth-century social thinkers between descriptive statements and concepts formed out of observation and value-assertions. He insists that his scholarship does not contain expressions of normative morality and is openly contemptuous of political advocacy disguised as analytic thought. Yet the nonscientific aspect of his own judgments keeps intruding, seen in the obvious moral passion shown by Kondylis in scolding political utopians. Since 1991, when the “end of history” argument was first advanced by neoconservative publicist Francis Fukuyama, Kondylis has held forth against the notion that human history is ending with the fall of Communism. He has ridiculed the idea and the presumed intent behind it, that all or most of humanity is being drawn into a democratic capitalist orbit marked by peaceful trade and orderly change.

To this Kondylis has responded that history will likely go on, as has been the case until now, with struggles and ideological self-justifications. In a world of expanding population, limited resources, and rising materialist expectations, he finds no reason to think that human conflict is about to end. Moreover the terms “democracy,” “capitalism,” and “rights” have been made to mean whatever partisan politicians and intellectuals wish them to mean. All of these terms now have been given what Kondylis calls a “polemical” function: they are used to carry on a struggle against political and cultural enemies or obstacles. Here Kondylis may be entirely on the mark. As I myself found in doing research on a book dealing with the managerial state, “democracy,” “liberalism,” and “right” have lost any specific meaning in “Western democracies.” What provides these terms with steady points of reference are their connection to postmodern societies and their sacral use by a particular elite. Public administrators, journalists, and other segments of the political class determine or alter the meaning of political doctrine. Even so, Kondylis, no less than those he argues against, is speaking “polemically.” His attempts to refute global democrats are not disinterested scientific statements. They proceed from a moral stance composed of his tragic view of life and dislike for ideological manipulation. This view does not weaken Kondylis’s arguments and in fact may enhance them, but it clearly does not represent the triumph of value-free science.

His interest in the cultural and geographic extensions of mass democracy has resulted in, among other projects, a book on planetary politics published in 1992. The argument of this work features prominently in Kondylis’s critical remarks on another recent study of world politics, Samuel Huntington’s provocative thesis on impending cultural wars presented in Foreign Affairs in 1993. Kondylis disagrees sharply with Huntington’s view (which I happen to share), that future planetary conflicts will be fueled by the tensions among cultural-religious blocs. In opposition to this gloomy prediction, he offers another equally somber one, that mass democracy will create both spiritual stupor and a growing desire for material well-being. This will lead not to peace, but to devastating wars pursued for resources, without much regard for moral self-justification. The belligerents will simply trot out the already worn mass democratic tags about “equality” and “human rights.”[20]

For all the pessimism of his work, Kondylis remains cheerful in his demeanor. He attributes this serene cheer to the kind of stoic apatheia which he cultivates. Already in his mid-fifties, he continues to live in austere solitude, dividing his time between two bachelor residences, in Heidelberg and in the Kifisia district of Athens. He has never held a full-time academic appointment, but has made do with a series of grants and the payment received for his political journalism. Despite the unfavorable comparison he draws between himself and better-known members of his family, Panajotis Kondylis may add further luster to an already distinguished name.


1. Panajotis Kondylis, Konservativismus: Geschichtlicher Gehalt und Untergang (Stuttgart, 1986), 51.

2. Panajotis Kondylis, “Marxismus, Kommunismus und die Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts” in Der Marxismus in seinem Zeitalter (Leipzig, 1994), 25, 33.

3. Letter from Kondylis dated February 14, 1997.

4. “Menschenrechte, begriffliche Verwirrung und politische Instrumentalisierung,” Frankfurter Rundschau, August 18, 1996, 12.

5. Cf. George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945, revised edition (Wilmington, Del., 1996), 329-41; and Paul Gottfried, The Conservative Movement, second edition (New York, 1993), 142-66.

6. Der Marxismus in seinem Zeitalter, 25 and 34.

7. For an expansive statement of this anti-American sentiment by Europe’s most prominent New Right spokesman, see Alan de Benoist’s Il etait une fois l’Amerique (Paris, 1984); and Thomas Molnar’s “American Culture: A Possible Threat,” The World and l (May 1987), 440-42.

8. See Konservativismus: Geschichtlicher Gehalt und Untergang, 387-447 and 507.

9. See Kondylis, Der Niedergang der burgerlichen Denk-und Lebensform: Die liberale Moderne und die massendemokratische Postmoderne (Weinheim, 1991), especially 169-88.

10. Ibid., 208-26.

11. Ibid., 238-67.

12. Der Marxismus in seinem Zeitalter, 15-16.

13. Der Marxismus in seinem Zeitalter, 18-19.

14. “Die Antiquiertheit der politischen Begriffe,” Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung, October 5, 1991, 8.

15. Ibid., see also “Globalisierung, Politik, Verteilung,” Tagesanzeiger, November 29, 1996, 8.

16. Konservativismus, 505.

17. References to Carl Schmitt abound in Kondylis’s interview with the Deutsche Ze itschrift fur Philosophie 4 (1994), 683-94; and in his work.

18. Konservativismus, 504.

19. See Kondylis’s feature pieces “Globale Mobilmachung” in Frankfurter Allemeine Zeitung, July 13, 1946, 7: “Bluhende Geistesgeschafte,” ibid., December 28, 1995; “Was heisst schon westlich?,” ibid., November 19, 1994; and Planetarische Politik nach dem Kalten Krieg (Berlin, 1992).

20. See “Globale Mobilmachung” in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, July 8, 1995, 7; and “Wege in die Ratlosigkeit,” ibid., May 7, 1995. The latter article is particularly revealing of Kondylis’s historical and moral outlook, inasmuch as it treats the “information revolution” dismissively and insists that the “logic of information will remain subordinate to interpersonal relations and ideological orientations.”

[Modern Age; Fall97, Vol. 39 Issue 4, p403, 8p]

The Concept of Grossraum in Carl Schmitt’s Jurisprudence (Nikolai von Kreitor)

Friday, August 7th, 1970

The Historical Necessity of a New Russian Grossraum
by Nikolai von Kreitor

The most fundamental principle in geopolitics is the principle of Grossraum (=Great Area) formulated by the prominent German jurist Carl Schmitt in his book Völkerrechtlishe Grossraumordnung mit Interventionsverbot für Raumfremde Mächte (1) and seen by him as a foundation for the science of international law and international relations.

A Grossraum is an area dominated by a power representing a distinct political idea. This idea was always formulated with a specific opponent in mind; in essence ,the distinction between friend and enemy would be determined by this particular political idea. As an example Carl Schmitt cited the American Monroe Doctrine and its concept of non-intervention by foreign powers in the American Raum. “This is the core of the original Monroe Doctrine, a genuine Grossraum principle, namely the union of politically awakened people, a political idea and, on the basis of this idea, a politically dominant Grossraum excluding foreign intervention.”

Carl Schmitt’s knowledge and sense of history were equaled by his ability to define core issues. That ability enabled Schmitt to quickly grasp the essence of national foreign policy , articulate it in his book, relate the idea and implementation of the American Monroe Doctrine to the concept of Grossraum , subject Grossraum to analysis, incorporate it into the framework of international law and contrapose American Grossraum to a new German Grossraum, opposed to and competing with the American. By subjecting Grossraum to scholarly investigation and by placing it in the context of global politics, Schmitt had hoped to enlarge the horizon of learning and to update the state-centered system of international law to include relations between Grossräume (Different Great Areas).(2)

In so doing he subjected the political theology of American expansionism, the American state-policy and objectives of world domination formulated and codified in the Monroe Doctrine and its various extension, to a demystifying and critical analysis showing that the essence of Wilsonian universalism before, during and after the World War II was in fact an insidious ideology to equate American national interest, American expansionism and the principles of the Monroe Doctrine with the interest of mankind(3). Discussing emerging political realities , Schmitt noted that Germany needed to formulate her own Grossraum and to conceptualize the nature of international law as a relationship between different Grossräume, rejecting thereby the universalistic claims of the United States.

The center of Carl Schmitt’s discussion was the geopolitical and the ideological substance of the Monroe Doctrine, especially the series of ideas articulated prior to Theodore Roosevelt’s reinterpretation of it justifying a “capitalist imperialism”(4) and Woodrow Wilson’s reinterpretation that sough to justify a “kind of pan-interventionist world ideology”(5) , i.e. to justify the principles of the Monroe Doctrine and the new international law it created in the Western Hemisphere to principles valid for the whole world. The substance of the new American international law, created by the Monroe Doctrine, was in fact an absence of international law, understood traditionally as law of nations created by mutual consent of those nations, in the Western Hemisphere, since the Monroe Doctrine postulated that the only source of the new international law was the will of the United States. According to Schmitt the Monroe Doctrine, historically seen, was the vehicle of American subjugation of the Latin American countries and transformation of those countries into virtual American protectorates.

President Woodrow Wilson’s objectives at the end of the W.W. I to elevate the principles of the Monroe Doctrine to universally valid principles for the whole world was in fact America’s first bid for world domination. On April 12, 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference , President Wilson assured the delegates that the Monroe Doctrine was “the real forerunner of the League of Nations” and asked rhetorically ,”Indeed are we not assembled here to consecrate and extend the horizon of this document as a perpetual charter for all the world.”(6)

The Monroe Doctrine, that nineteenth-century formulation of American foreign policy, has according to Schmitt a profound relevance for the Germany of his day. Though Schmitt recognized that the realities of power politics in the Western Hemisphere of the nineteenth century were different from those on the European continent of the twentieth century , he realized that the Monroe Doctrine had extended the parameters of international relations. As far as Schmitt was concerned, the Monroe Doctrine was “the first and until now the most successful example of a Grossraum principle”(7) that had over a period of time acquired validity, for it was referred to in every important text and dictionary of international law and was defended by the United States as “an expression of the inalienable right to self-defense”(8) Calling the Monroe Doctrine, i.e. the American expansionism, a “right to self-defense”, clearly showed the substance of American political theology-the ideological justification of U.S. imperialism as well as the equation in the ideology of expansionism with self-defense: an important ideological component that will became a center-peace of American mystification of U.S. expansionism.

Carl Schmitt points out that at the end of the W.W. I, at the Paris Peace-conference which resulted in the Treaty of Versailles and the creation of the League of Nations , United States succeeded to include the Monroe Doctrine in the Article 21 of the League’s Covenant. Inclusion of the Monroe Doctrine in the Article 21 in the League of Nation’s Covenant, which reads “Nothing in this Covenant shall be deemed to affect the validity of international engagements, such as treaties of arbitration or regional understandings like the Monroe Doctrine, for securing the maintenance of peace.” symbolized for Carl Schmitt Europe’s defeat by the United States and the end of the old Jus Publicum European, which had been the foundation for all preexisting international relations. For one thing , the League of Nations, purportedly an universal international organization and predecessor of the United Nations, was excluded from asserting any jurisdictional claims in the American Grossraum, i.e. the Western Hemisphere. Western Hemisphere was excluded from the purview of the League. Thus the United States asserted the pre-eminence of its will and the ordering principles of her Grossraum, i.e. her unrestricted hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, over the League of Nations.

Schmitt emphasizes that before Grossraum could be anchored in international law it had to be legitimized by a political idea. The geopolitical and ideological conviction behind the original Monroe Doctrine, proclaimed in 1823 – the belief that the Americas had to be defended from the “status quo powers of legitimacy”(9) , the Holly Alliance, the European Con-cert formed after the defeat of Napoleon – justified its proclamation and gave it credibility. President James Monroe announced the doctrine in response to rumored intervention in America of the Holy Alliance. The United States justified its policy on the basis of its inalienable right of self-defense , a principle on which international law is found. Hence the declaration warning the members of the Holy Alliance that the United States “would consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety” and that the U.S. government would “view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in no other light than as manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States”. As a corollary of the principle of nonintervention, Monroe declared that the United States was committing itself to a policy of non-intervention “in the internal concerns of any European powers.”(10)

Carl Schmitt notes that the Monroe Doctrine , originally proclaimed as a vehicle of defense against interventionism and European colonialism, transformed itself into it’s opposite, becoming the main legal and ideological instrument of American interventionism, expansionism, economic imperialism and colonization of the Western Hemisphere.(11) The language of the Monroe Doctrine lended itself to a political-semantic corruption of the English language: American interventionist policies were still presented as defense, American colonialism was heralded as establishment of democracy, installation of puppet regimes in Latin-America serving their American masters was called a preservation of civilized forms of government, the many repeated American military interventions to keep the puppet regimes in power and to expand American economic penetration – a peace-keeping operations and, quite consistent with what George Orwell would latter call a New Talk, the enslavement of Latin-American countries, their transformation into protectorates was heralded as enlargement of the frontiers of freedom.

The interventionist substance of the Monroe Doctrine was clearly emphasized in 1904, in the so called Roosevelt Corollary pronounced by President Theodore Roosevelt shortly after the Hague Peace Conference the same year. Roosevelt proposed to make an exception to general international law in favor of the Western Hemisphere and this exception were to be made by ” a unilateral American pronouncement , not through a universally agreed amendment to international law.”(12) Roosevelt explicitly rejected the notion that the new international law in the Western Hemisphere could be created through multilateral, inter-American action, instead, Roosevelt asserted, its creation was only through unilateral action by the United States, i.e. the source of the new international law was solely the will of the United States.

“Instead of abolishing intervention in the Western Hemisphere, Roosevelt explicitly sanctioned this practice and claimed for the United States a monopoly of the right to engage in it… Finally the Roosevelt corollary applied to American intervention of all kind and for whatever purpose.”(13) The new international law in the Western Hemisphere, as formulated by Theodore Roosevelt, was in fact an absence of international law, or, to put it in another way, the foreign expansionist policy of the United States was elevated into a quasi international law. Thus the Roosevelt corollary defined the principle of organization and control of geopolitical space under American domination. That principle of domination suspended the operation of general norms of international law and elevated the imperialist will of the United States into the sole normative source. Or, as Secretary of State Olney had earlier expressed it: “United States is the sole sovereign in the Western Hemi-sphere and its will is a fiat.” Carl Schmitt also emphasized the territorial criterion of the Monroe Doctrine for the international law. He noted that the doctrine introduced territorial lines of delineation and demarcation into the body of international law, infused the international law with the concept and substance of geopolitics.


Based on the perception that the Monroe Doctrine provided the precedent for justification for both German and Japanese Grossraum, Schmitt observed that the traditional Eurocentric order underlying international law- relations between and among sovereign states- had been superseded by relations between and among sovereign Grossräume(14) As far as Germany was concerned , her Grossraum consisted, according to Schmitt’s view during the 30-ties, predominantly of Central and Eastern Europe. Though Schmitt failed to define the precise territorial dimensions of Germany’s Grossraum, he cited the Monroe Doctrine as the basis for maintaining that Grossraum in not something abstract and diffuse but contains “recognizable territorial limits”(15).

According to the Monroe Doctrine, Schmitt argued, the leading or hegemonial power is the one that determines the governing political idea for its realm. United States asserted the political idea that it had the hegemonial right to exclude from the Western Hemisphere any foreign power, or any foreign influence. After the end of the Word War I United States also asserted that the newly formed international organization , the League of Nations , was also excluded from asserting any jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere. Schmitt emphasized that the new German Grossraum , seen by him as analogous to the American Grossraum, should also exclude any foreign interference, and above all American influence, and argued for the proclamation of a Ger-man Monroe Doctrine. Schmitt rejected the false universalist claims of the United States and noted that as a matter of principle non-interference by European states in the affairs of the American continent cannot be justified unless the United States likewise refrains from interference in the affairs of the European continent. In Carl Schmitt’s view geopolitics and international law have been joined in the Germanic Monroe Doctrine underlying the German Grossraum.

Carl Schmitt defined also the concept of a national Grossraum principle by extending his analysis to encompass the Reich . Though “the concept of Grossraum belongs to the concept of Reich (Empire, Realm) , the two are not identical because “not every state or every people within the German Grossraum is part of the Reich”. A Reich, according to Schmitt, “is the leading and sustaining power whose political idea radiates over a specific Grossraum”. And the code that governs relations between Grossräume is that of nonintervention.(16) Schmitt asserted that in the middle of Europe the German Reich faces the interventionist claims of the Anglo-Saxon pseudo-universalism. Against those claims it contraposes the principle of national life style “based on the principle of national respect.”(17)

Whereas relations between Grossräume were to be governed by the principle of nonintervention , intra-Grossraum relations in Schmitt’s construct were to be based on respect for every nation and nationality. Although in Schmitt’s configuration this connoted a policy of domination exercised without the need to resort to the extraordinary means of intervention , decision about whether to intervene, reflecting power-political realities, would not be made in any capital of the German Grossraum other than Berlin. One possible justification for intervention in a nation in the Reich was that it pursued foreign policy goals inimical to the security interests of Germany. In another work Carl Schmitt defines the Reich as “the leading and supporting powers whose political idea is radiated over a specified major territory and which fundamentally exclude the intervention of extra-territorial powers with regard to this territory.”(18)

It should be noted that Carl Schmitt, while recognizing that the historically changing world order and nature of international relations necessitated the reformulation of the international law in terms of equal relationship between competing Grossräume, he nevertheless never advocated an unrestricted expansion of a singular Grossraum i.e. geopolitical objectives of total world hegemony by for example Germany. Quite to the contrary : the substance of his work Grossraum gegen Universalismus is a strong criticism of the American ideology of universalism and from that ideology derived foreign policy on which U.S. embarked in a limited scope during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, and which became the ideological hallmark of the Wilsonianism during and after the World War I.

American universalism , emphasized Schmitt, globalized the principles of the Monroe Doctrine to principles valid for the whole world i.e. to universal principles and thus , ideologically and politically, laid claims for extension of American hegemony in the Western Hemisphere to a hegemony over the whole world. American objectives for world conquest and domination used the ideology of universalism to revise the geographical limitations of the Monroe Doctrine- the very principle of geographical delimitation and demarcation of the concept of Grossraum- and to justify American interventionism in the European continent. While American universalism was a rejection of the idea of co-existence of different Grossräume and thus not only a rejection of the concept of Grossraum with its principles of geographic delimitation but also a claim for global world hegemony, so was also Hitler’s concept of Lebensraum which served as an ideological device for foreign policy objectives of establishment first of German continental hegemony and latter of global world hegemony . In other words there were ideological and geopolitical similarities between Wilson’s universalism and Hitler’s Lebensraum. Both Wilsonian universalism and Nazi-Germany’s Lebensraum were falsification of a genuine Grossraum principle and both universalism and Lebensraum rejected the very notion of international pluralism, of co-existence of Grossräume.

Both universalism and Lebensraum as concepts were antithetical to Schmitt’s concept of territorial limits of Grossraum and both universalism and Lebensraum encompassed no territorial limits serving as ideological justification for global world domination.(19)

In formulating the concept of Grossraum Carl Schmitt wanted to broad the framework of international law to include relations between Grossräume. His concept allowed for the rational conduct of international relations and provided a compelling principle for the international law that would correspondent to new historical realities.


Prior to the dissolution or , I would rather say, subversion of the Soviet Union in 1991, in the bipolar world of two superpowers , there existed two competing Grossräume ( Great Areas) or two opposing political blocks, each with its sphere of influence and thus geographical delimitation and demarcation: the Atlantic Grossraum, dominated by the United States, and the Eurasian Grossraum, dominated by the Soviet Union. The political competition between the two blocks gave a substantial latitude for autonomy and independence for countries included in the sphere of influence of the two blocks. However after 1991 a completely new world order has been created. The bipolar world landscape of two superpowers has been transformed into a mono landscape of one superpower imposing its will on the rest of the world. The concept of a New World Order, propounded first by President Bush and now implemented by the neo-Wilsonian foreign policies of President Clinton, must be seen as a realization and assertion of the principles on the Monroe Doctrine to principles valid for the whole world, or, in other words, as a Roosevelt corollary for the whole world, with a new international law equated with the U.S.’s will. The globalization of the Monroe Doctrine , the pronouncement of the Bush/Clinton corollary is the assertion of the legitimacy of American intervention in the world for whatever purposes United States deem necessary, in other words , it is the equation of the United States will with grounds for intervention, an equation which is not only a radical repudiation of the priciples of non-intervention contained in the United Nations Charter, and thus a repudiation of the essence and substance of the United Nations, but is also the substance of the new international law of the New World Order. In the post-Cold War political landscape , United States, invoking and asserting her principles of legitimacy of American world-wide hegemony , is in a position visavi Europe similar to the position of the former Holy Alliance visavi America in the past. American intrusion into the Eurasian geopolitical vacuum after the demise of the Soviet Union, has necessitated a formulation and implementation of a global policy of pseudo-universalism and intervention. Therefore an absolute geopolitical necessity for Russia now, tantamount to her national survival, is the re-establishment of her Grossraum, which is a prerequisite not only for the future independence of Russia but also for the independence of other European countries as well. Re-establishment of the Russian Grossraum and a necessary new geopolitical alliance, which one my symbolically call “a second Treaty of Rappalo”, will be the beginning of disintegration of the global system of American universalism and interventionism and thus a necessary prerequisite for the rebirth of America-free Europe. During the interwar years, in the Europe after the Treaty of Versailles , Carl Schmitt, observing the universalist claims of international law of American and British imperialism, asserted that “behind the facade of general norms of international law lies, in reality, the system of Anglo-Saxon world imperialism”(20)

Today, observing the new American expansionism, the American invasion in the geopolitical vacuum of the Eurasian Grossraum, the decline and fall of the United Nations and the perversion of this international body into a legitimacy facade for the United States bid for world conquest and hegemony in the New World Order , one may say, as it was said once before by Carl Schmitt , that behind the facade of general norms of international law , lies now in reality the system of American world imperialism and expansionism. For the substance of the New World Order is the globalization of the American hegemony without any geographical limitations, the triumph of the old Wilsonian universalism or the neo-Wilsonian policies of President Clinton, a universalism that is a radical rejection of the notion of peaceful co-existence of Grossräume, of a pluralistic world order build on respect for existing state sovereignties.

The primary foreign policy objective of Russia must be the formulation of her own Monroe Doctrine, geographically delimiting Russian Grossraum, which would exclude the intervention on foreign powers and above all the United States.

A formulation of a Russian Monroe Doctrine implies by necessity a rejection of the pseudo-universalist claims of the American New World Order and the validity of a new international law that legitimizes that order. It also implies a firm rejection of American legal nihilism and revisionism, it mandates a restoration of a world order codified by the Helsinki Accord. Thus a Russian Monroe Doctrine will be an expression of a genuine and inalienable right to self-defense against American expansionism and it’s new territorial ambitions. Integral to the purpose of self-defense must be a Russian claim for respect for Russian minorities in any state where they are to be found as well as prevention of foreign policy inimical to the security interest of Russia , such as membership in NATO , prevention of coming into power of governments serving as agents of foreign power , in short , of governments of American Quislings.

The geographical delimitation of the Russian Grossraum is the territory of the former Soviet Union, countries belonging to the former socialist block , including Yugoslavia, now subjected to a war of aggression by the United States.

A Russian Grossraum can only be a genuine, geographically delimited Grand Area and the international law it would create will be, according to Carl Schmitt’s visions, an international law encompassing the co-existence of Grossräume and thus a rejection of the international law of the New World Order- the universalization of American principles of legitimization of global and unlimited American expansionism and domination. A peaceful co-existence of Grossräume can hardly be achieved without the geopolitical expulsion of the United States from Eurasia.

In the past the United States has been successful in theologization of American geopolitical objectives of world domination – the ideology of Wilsonian pseudo universalism-and demonization of geopolitical competitors and thus rejection of the very notion of geopolitical pluralism. The restoration of the Russian Grossraum is therefore the only guaranty for international peace and renewed respect for international law, constructed not as the will of the United States but as the collective will of sovereign countries and geopolitical blocks. Russian Grossraum is the only guaranty against the future anti-utopia of a Monroe Doctrine for the whole world.

The historical necessity and actuality of a new Russian Grossraum, excluding American interference in Eurasia, confluence with Charles de Gaulle’s vision of a free Europe from Atlantic to Urals and beyond to Vladivostok, which could only exist as America-free Europe. Without a reconstitution of a Russian Grossraum, the future not only of Russia but also of other European countries, will be the present of Latin America. In other worlds, the historical necessity of a Russian Grossraum is a decision for a future of freedom and national and cultural authenticity, a decision against the future as American protectorate. And again, the Russian choice is also the choice of Europe.


(1) Carl Schmitt -Völkerrechtliche Grossraumordnung mit Interventionsverbot für Raumfremde Mächte- Ein Bitrag zum Reichsbegriff im Völkerrecht (Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1991)

(2) some authors trace the concept of Grossraum in earlier writings of Friedrich Naumann and others. “According to their concept of Mitteleuropa , modern political, economic, and technological considerations necessitated the creation of a German empire in the center of Europe that would allow Germany to survive in a world dominated by political units larger than a typical European nation-state, namely Russia, the British Empire , and the United States..Raumtheorie was first established as a specialized field of study in the twenties , when it became an integral part of the developing sciene of geopolitics” -see Joseph W. Bendersky-Carl Schmitt (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1983) – at p. 251

(3) Carl Schmitt – Grossraum gegen Universalism in Positionen und Begriffe im Kampf mit Weimar- Genf- Versailles 1923-1939 (Duncker & Humblot , Berlin , 1988)

(4) Carl Scmitt -Völkerrechtlische Grossraumordnung – ibid. p. 37

(5) Carl Schmitt- Völkerrechtlische Grossraumordnung- ibid. pp 38-39

(6) Stephen Bonsal -Unfinished Business (New York, 1944) pp. 184-185; also Arthur P. Whitaker-The Western Hemisphere Idea (Cornell University Press, New York, 1954) at p. 125

(7) Carl Schmitt- Völkerrechtlische Grossraumordnung- ibid. p. 23

(8) Carl Schmitt- Völkerrechtlische Grossraumordnung- ibid. pp. 17, 19, 27-30

(9) Carl Schmitt- Völkerrechtlische Grossraumordnung- ibid. p. 34

(10) see Thomas A. Bailey – A Diplomatic Hisstory of the American People (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1980), pp. 183-184

(11) see Carl Schmitt -Völkerrechtliche Formen des modernen Imperialismus in Schmitt Positionen und Begriffe

(12) Arthur P. Whitaker- The Western Hemisphere Idea -ibid. – p. 100

(13) Arthur P. Whitaker- The Western Hemisphere Idea -ibid. – p. 100

(14) Carl Schmitt – Volkerrechtliche Grossraumordnung- ibid. p. 76, 77, 81

(15) Carl Schmitt – Volkerrechtliche Grossraumordnung- ibid. p. 16

(16) Carl Schmitt – Volkerrechtliche Grossraumordnung- ibid. p. 66

(17) Carl Schmitt – Volkerrechtliche Grossraumordnung- ibid. p.71

(18) Carl Schmitt – Der Reichbegrif in Völkerrecht in Positionen und Begriffe – ibid. at p. 303

(19)in fact American universalism can be seen as Lebenraum for American economic imperialism

(20)Carl Schmitt – Völkerrechtliche Formen des modernen Imperialismus ibid. p.43

Carl Schmitt and federalism (Luis Maria Bandieri)

Friday, August 7th, 1970

The relation between Carl Schmitt and federalism immediately poses a problem. Except for a section on federalism in Verfassungslehre, (2) and his remarks in Der Huter der Verfassung, (3) references to federalism in Schmitt’s works are few and far between. Since he obviously considered federalism an important constitutional problem, it is puzzling that he did not say more about it. When he discusses the state, i.e., “political unity” par excellence, he does not inquire about its internal organization–in particular, how power is articulated internally. Since the state is the ultimate representative of the jus publicum Europaeum, Schmitt emphasizes its ability to guarantee internal peace without dealing with the mechanisms needed for the task. But is federalism a version of the classical state, and did Schmitt conceive of other political forms that would transcend it?

In current constitutional literature, federalism refers to a particular form of the territorial articulation of power. According to Schmitt, control of a territory by the state may occur in two ways: either with a territorial articulation of power among the parts dependent on the whole–the center–which monopolizes control; or with one where everything, including the center, depend on the parts, and central control is distributed between the whole and the parts. The first is a unitary, while the second is a federal model. Thus, Argentina is a federal state formed by provincial member states. The confederation results in a territorial articulation of power where a number of states agree to delegate certain jurisdictions to a common suprastate organization.

Schmitt was educated in a legal and political environment infused with “federal” and “confederal” ideas, as they were shaped in Lothringen and the Holy Roman Empire, where villages, cities, and communes, each with their own means and objectives, developed without being threatened by their relation to wider groups, kingdoms or empires. This is how the idea of unity (4) as “harmonious agreement” arose in medieval thought. When Napoleon overthrew the ancient German empire, he understood that the various German principalities could not survive in isolation–and in order to organize Mittleuropa he created under his protectorate the Conferedation of the Rhine (1806-1813), excluding Prussia. With the fall of Napoleon, the Germanic Confederation was established, integrating 38 sovereign states including an empire (Austria) and five kingdoms (Prussia, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Saxony, and Hannover). The second German Reich was organized in 1871 as a federal state formed by 25 member states under Prussian hegemony. The federal council was presided over by the King of Prussia, who held the title of Emperor of Germany, and designated the Reich’s Chancellor. In 1919, the Weimar Republic was federal, parliamentary, and democratic, although the individual states retained limited prerogatives. Whatever the limitations of these confederations and federations, at the beginning of the 20th century German jurists could not avoid confronting federalism. (5)

Schmitt’s Verfassungslehre is his only work dealing with conventional and classical juridical theory. In it, he challenged many of his colleagues, and took positions contrary to established opinion. Schmitt who, when all is said and done, was more of a jurist–more a Kronjurist–of the Weimar Republic than of the Third Reich, where he ended up as an outsider, composed this study a critique of the liberal state, which the Weimar constitution claimed to reflect most adequately. Paradoxically, he became one of the sharpest specialist of those aspects of the liberal state (Rechtstaat) generally overlooked by mainstream analysts. (6)

Except for Max von Seydel, whom Schmitt followed, the hitherto dominant political theory counterposed the concept of Statenbund–as in the 1815 confederation–to that of federal state (Bundesstaat)–as in the Second Reich of 1871. According to Schmitt, there were no differences between them: “a federation is a permanent union based on a voluntary agreement concerning the political self-preservation of all member states. It changes the political status of every member of the federation in view of the common purpose.” (7) The federation establishes a new juridical and political status for each member. The federal pact is one among states which tends to become permanent (every confederation is conceived of as “eternal,” i.e., in terms of the seemingly relative permanence of every political form). According to Schmitt, every federation rests on three antinomies or contradictions: 1) the right to self-preservation as opposed to the jus belli; 2) the right to self-determination in opposition to interventions; and 3) the simultaneous existence, on the one hand, of a common federation, and, on the other, of the member states.

The dual character of its political existence is the essence of the federation. This coexistence of a general and a particular political unity generates a difficult equilibrium. Above all, it generates the problem of sovereignty: which is sovereign, the federated states or the federation as a whole? For Schmitt, the question of sovereignty was the question of decision (“Sovereign is he who decides on the state of exemption,” in this case, who decides on the question of political existence). If the decision were deferred to a juridical tribunal, it would immediately become sovereign–an existential political power. According to Schmitt, the question could not be decided by deploying the theory current at the time and prevalent among German constitutionalists, based on the distinction between confederation and federation, since in a crisis of political existence the confederation dissolves and the federation turns into a unitary state.

In this context, Schmitt, appeals to John Calhoun’s ideas, which proved useful to the Southern confederates. (8) Calhoun challenged the notion that, when the 1787 Constitution took effect, the federal states renounced their sovereignty–state’s rights–which predated the federation and were in principle unlimited, except for those jurisdictions expressly delegated to the federation, as listed in the Constitution. Calhoun maintained that this delegation of powers did not transfer sovereignty to the federation and did not imply a renunciation of sovereignty. The federal states retained the right of nullification for laws and federal acts, and, when their security and existence were compromised, they had a right to secede (which led to the Civil War of 1861-65). Thereafter, having been defeated on the battlefield, this position concerning nullification and secession became equivalent to rebellion. The Supreme Court was now the judge in the last instance concerning questions pertaining to the federated states. Yet, according to Schmitt, Calhoun’s argument was not thereby refuted. What had happened was that the character of the Constitution had changed and the federation had ceased to exist, i.e., it had been replaced by the administrative and legislative autonomy of the federal states: a pseudo-federation.

Schmitt later discussed the antinomies which tend to weaken a federation. Federation presupposes the homogeneity of all its members. For Montesquieu, this homogeneity consisted in the fact that the federated states were republican, i.e., they had the same political organization. This homogeneity could also be based on nationality, religion, civilization, etc. Schmitt seems to privilege national homogeneity, i.e., the homogeneity of the people’s origin. Therefore, the first antinomy–the right to self-defense and the renunciation of the jus belli–is weakened, because the homogeneity with the other federal states excludes hostility among them. The second antinomy–autonomy and intervention–is also weakened, because the will to self-determination is posited vis-a-vis external interference, which cannot obtain among federal states. So is the third antinomy–existential dualism between the sovereign federation and sovereign member states–because homogeneity rules out decisive existential conflicts. In the case of decisions affecting political existence, (9) e.g., concerning either foreign policy or internal security, they will have to be made either by the federation or the member state. Within such homogeneity, a decisive conflict between the federation and the member states is impossible. Otherwise, the federal pact becomes a “a futile and deceptive enterprise.” (10)

The Spanish translator of Schmitt’s Verfassungslehre, Francisco Ayala, claims that Schmitt “manages to guarantee that federations as well as member states appear at once to be united and sovereign.” (11) Yet, for Schmitt, tension between the federation and the member states is inherent in every federal organization. Once an exceptional situation arises, it has to be resolved by the sovereign decision of either the federation or the member states. The antinomies at the core of this tension may become weakened, while the homogeneity which led to the original pact, and changed the status of the member states, remains. Because that homogeneity is acknowledged by these member states, the moment one of them feels a threat to its existence, either the original pact is displaced by a state, “one and indivisible,” or it will be destroyed by the exercise of the rights of nullification and secession. In the first instance, when confronted with an exceptional situation, the federation will inevitably exercise its sovereignty and actually evolve into a centralized state; in the second instance, the sovereign act comes from one or more member states, and it destroys the federation. In this case, the state of exception gives rise to the sovereign act, and the one which decides–be it the federation or the member states–creates another juridical order. (12) In any case, the circumstances indicated by Schmitt do not constitute a special weakness of the federation with respect to other forms of territorial articulation of power. One needs only to look at the Spanish or Italian decentralized type of unitary state (the “regional state” or the “autonomous state”), or the United Kingdom to notice the same existential tension between the central state and the particular communities Schmitt identified as the antinomic core or center of the federation’s conflict. Even in France, a republic which is one and indivisible par excellence, there is the unmanageable case of Corsica. At one time, half-jokingly and half-seriously, ex-Prime Minister Raymond Barre proposed to return it to Genoa.

Schmitt first presents his readers with major difficulties and tensions that, in his judgment, appear in every federation. Later, he seems to dismiss them with reference to homogeneity, especially the homogeneity of origin–in the national homogeneity of a people. But then he poses a new difficulty in which homogeneity threatens to destroy the federation, i.e., a surviving antinomy between democracy to federalism. The more democracy, the less the proper sphere of the federated states. Both democracy and federalism rest on the presupposition of homogeneity. Schmitt separates democracy and the bourgeois liberal state: the former is a political form that corresponds to the identity principle between the rulers and the ruled, those who command and those who obey. For this reason, the development of democracy within the federation–the national homogenous unity of the people–transcends the political borders of the member states and tends to suppress the balance between the federation and the politically independent member states, in favor of unity.

According to Schmitt, this is conducive to “a federal state without a federal foundation,” (13) such as the Weimar Republic or the US. In both, the Constitution takes elements from a previous federal organization and claims to retain them, but the democratic dimension of the constitutive power of the people marginalizes the federation. A complex system of power distinctions and decentralizations comes about, yet the federal base is missing: there is political unity (the political unity of a people in a state), but not the plurality of political unities required by a properly understood federation. As Schmitt points out, there is no mention of Bavarians, Prussians or Swabians in the Weimar Constitution: only Germans. Yet, the contradiction between democracy and federalism, whereby the former undermines the latter, does not seem to have affected Switzerland.

In Der Huter der Verfassung, Schmitt designates the president as the guardian of the constitution, i.e., as a neutral power above the fray. Neither a juridical tribunal nor a constitutional court could fulfill that role, because the sovereign decision would thereby transform them respectively into a supreme court or a constitutional council–into sovereign “negative legislators” (Kelsen’s expression). Schmitt discusses in detail the real dangers connected with defending the constitution. On the one hand, there were totalitarian parties with completely hostile worldviews or ideologies (National Socialism and communism), attempting to rob the state of its proper political prerogative, i.e., the drawing of the line between friends and enemies. Besides these totalitarian parties, there were also parliamentary coalitions tending to fragment political unity, which accentuates pluralistic tendencies. Schmitt adds that the “policratism” of the public sectors of the economy (the postal service, the railroads, the Reichsbank, etc.) that function independently of each other were also contributing to the dissolution of the Weimar Republic. On the other hand, given the nature of the Weimar Republic, both a parliamentary and a federal entity, the antinomy between federalism and democracy resurfaced. Schmitt does not hide the fact that the federal side of the Weimar Republic seemed to be destabilizing the state as well as the role of the president as the guardian of the constitution. He claimed that federal arrangements could also support pluralism, but that such a “reconciliation” of parliamentarism and federalism could only be achieved “through a reciprocal loosening of the uniformity and stability of state unity.” (14) In a state which is both federal and parliamentary, federalism may be justified either on the basis of authentic territorial decentralization against pluralistic powers entrenched in the government and the economy, or as “a counterweight to the prevailing pluralistic power complexes and the methods of their party politics.” (15)

This point is relevant today, when a system of territorial articulation of power has become a function of the party system. When, as is the case of Argentina, centralized national parties control representation through closed lists, thus reducing democracy to a self-referential exercise, the diversity of the federated communities tends to disappear. As a reaction to this state of affairs, local particularistic parties come into being, as has happened in Spain, Italy, Scotland, etc. This explains why Schmitt’s discussion of the Swiss case in Verfaussunglehre, whereby the most violent antinomy obtains between the federation and a democracy monopolized by national and centralized parties, is no longer relevant.

Although Schmitt theorized the decline of the nation-state, he was unable to go beyond its political horizon. (16) As Ayala points out, he does not leave space for a type of political coexistence different from the national (centralized) state. (17) Gary Ulmen synthetizes the question as follows: Schmitt basically considered federalism to be a phase in the passage between the plural and partial world of the nation-states and the contemporary world tending toward a homogenizing unity. Schmitt indicates a few fundamental antinomies in federalism: presupposing that a federation is a contract of status. (18) Schmitt sees in federalism some basic antinomies: the presupposition that a federation is a contract between more or less similar entities to guarantee protection, management, and integration implies a permanent tension between the autonomy of member states and federal integration. In time, the greatest force of the federation relative to the member states will produce a growing centralization, while the heterogeneity of the different units (e.g., as in the US) clashes with the democratic principle of a sovereign people, i.e., it transcends the differences between the member states and tends toward homogeneity. At this point, the contradiction seems unsolvable: without homogeneity, the democratic federation cannot function, but if homogeneity is achieved a unitary state comes into being. It is a process of gradual reductio ad unum.

In Schmitt, there is a permanent tension between his respect for the jus publicum Europaeum, i.e., international law, and his perception of the decline of the state: “Until recently, the European part of humanity lived in an epoch whose juridical concepts were completely characterized by the state and presupposed the state as the model of political unity. The epoch of the state is now coming to an end. Nothing more need be said. Together with the state, the whole superstructure of state-related concepts that established a Eurocentric science of constitutional and international law lasting 400 years is ending. The state as the model of political unity, the state as the bearer of the most astounding of all monopolies, namely the monopoly of political decision, this magnificent edifice of European form and occidental rationalism, is being dethroned. But its concepts are being retained and are even now becoming classical. Clearly, for most the word classical today sounds ambiguous and ambivalent, if not to say: ironic.” (19) Despite Schmitt’s clear position, there is a nostalgic tone in relation to the epoch which is ending, and a ominous forecast with respect to the one that is beginning. There is some hesitation to think beyond the state. Schmitt is clear, precise, and definitive in relation to the end of the state and the jus publicum Europaeum. He uses Proudhon’s phrase, “whoever says `humanity’ means to deceive,” and warns about the intensification of enmity in absolute positions hidden beneath the pretense of humanitarian intervention. At the same time, he is unable to prefigure a new juridical order that could approximate what existed with the jus publicum Europaeum. The political unity of the state was necessary for the global juridical order, while now humanity is heading toward a global political unity where the civilizing dimension of the political would not be able to achieve what the state attained earlier: internal peace and the elimination of internal enmity, i.e., the civilizing dimension of the political would be lost. Schmitt, however, was never interested in how internal peace was articulated internally. Unitas seduces him, but he is not attracted to universitas within which differences are articulated. Thus, he leaves that medieval thought which culminated with D ante and, later, reappeared with Althusius, as fundamental to the federal notion. Medieval legal experts spoke of local universitates ordered from the domus, the vicus, the civitas, the provincia, the regnum, the imperium. Schmitt may have seen in that trend the manifestation of the political romanticism he criticized earlier. Thus, Adam Mailer’s formulas concerning an “organic” and stratified concept of the state as a community superior to all other communities was continued by Gierke’s work and taken up by one of Schmitt’s contemporaries, Othmar Spann. On several occasions, Schmitt criticized organic theories that saw the state as a community among others, influencing the sovereign’s summa potestas. (20) Thus, he cites Gierke’s political theology in the search for the ultimate unity of the “cosmos” and of a system which Schmitt considers “superstition and reminiscent of medieval scholasticism,” but does not mention state sovereignty. (21) In his book on Hobbes’ Leviathan, Schmitt indicates that when the state confronted this medieval pluralism, the mechanisms for overcoming the anarchy of the Church’s right of resistance led to civil war. (22)

As is well known, in the 1940s Schmitt began to speak of empires and Grossraume as political forms complementing or even replacing the state. In other words, he saw the possibility of a new jus publicum with less political bodies than in the previous one: “a balance of several Grossraume create among themselves a new law of peoples at a new level and with new dimensions, yet endowed with certain analogies to the law of the European peoples of the 18th and 19th centuries, which was also based on a power equilibrium that sustained its structure.” (23) He did not specify how these Grossraume would be organized internally, but he did claim that they should maintain an internal homogeneity and that some larger member state would exercise a hegemonic role, such as the US did in relation to the rest of the Americas after the Monroe Doctrine established limits and banned foreign intervention.

Schmitt saw Grossraume as providing a possible new katechon, i.e., a restrainer of chaos. This concept appears several times in Schmitt’s mature work. In biblical terms, the katechon was to restrain any manifestation of the Antichrist, understood as global sovereignty, i.e. a uniform, unified world corresponding to industrial-technical thought. In every age, the katechon is established and maintains the nomos until it disappears with it. As a construction of European rationalism, these states are the authors of their own internal peace. For Schmitt, the katechon was the European system of states fighting among themselves in a regulated manner. He saw no virtue in federations, since they are provisional, i.e., temporary contracts subject to destabilization. Yet, despite his distrust of federal forms, he provided considerable juridical and political insights.

Schmitt saw himself as the intellectual katechon with respect to global sovereignty and the political unity of the world. He warned about the rift between statehood and federation, and admitted that the nomos of the earth was disappearing. He was not able to foresee the possibility of a new pluralistic nomos in which conflicts would be kept in check. But today, a federalism of the Lothingian Germanic variety (as elaborated by Proudhon) is reappearing as a comprehensive vision of the world to replace the federal state of the Hamiltonian variety, which he considered an equivocal juridical pastiche. (24) Reminiscent of the e pluribus unum of the North American federation, its formula might be: ex uno plures. The Schmittian katechon is gone. A global sovereignty is possible. But until recently, it was thought that sovereignty resided impersonally and ubiquitously in the global mechanisms, supports, and the self-sufficient programs of communicational, computational, and financial networks of modern technology. (25) Since there is no visible Leviathan, it was assumed that it was dead or asleep. After September 11, 2001, the Leviathan should manifest itself again to safeguard the globe against the threat of global and “privatized” terrorism.

These are times of Dantesque raging storms, and Schmitt’s reflections provide some insights. As Holderlin used to say, in danger one may also find salvation. Schmitt added that, at the edge of the abyss, in an exceptional situation, “the mind opens up to the arcane.”



(1.) Translated from Spanish by Victoria Talavera.

(2.) Carl Schmitt, Verfassungslehre (1928), 5th ed. (Berlin: Dumcker & Humblot, 1970); all quotations are from “The Constitutional Theory of Federation,” tr. by G. L. Ulmen, in Telos 91 (Spring 1992), pp. 26-56.

(3.) Carl Schmitt, Der Huter der Verfassung (1931), 2nd ed. (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1969).

(4.) See Otto von Gierke, Political Theories of the Middle Ages, tr. by Frederic W. Maitland (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1996).

(5.) As its name indicates, the Federal Republic of Germany was configured in 1949 with a federal system, whereas the Democratic Republic of Germany was founded as a unitary system: a “Socialist state of the German nation.” Under the Third Reich, the Enabling Act of March 24, 1933, which abolished the Weimar Constitution, granted legislative power to the Reich Government, i.e., to the Fuhrer, who appointed the governor in each and every district. The organization of the Reich was assimilated into the uniform and centralized organization of the Nazi Party. Today, Germany is a federal state.

(6.) Schmitt, Der Huter der Verfassung, op cit., p. 14.

(7.) Schmitt, “The Constitutional Theory of Federation,” op. cit., p. 30.

(8.) Schmitt frequently favored the cause of the vanquished: victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa Catoni–the victor’s cause pleases the gods, but that of the vanquished pleases Cato and Schmitt.

(9.) James Madison proposed a distributive sovereignty, whereby the member states retain a portion, an inviolable residue of power, and the federation only exercises delegated powers. This is possible, because the people organized as a citizenry, rather than as a mass, express their sovereign will partially, i.e., in several representations: as individuals, as members of a member state, and as members of the federation. See The Federalist, ed. with an introduction and notes by Jacob E. Cooke (Middletown, CT.: Wesleyan University Press, 1961). For Schmitt, this division of sovereignty, this type of finium regundorum between the federation and the member states, is inconceivable. In the exceptional situation, whoever decides–the federation or the member states–becomes fully sovereign.

(10.) Schmitt, “The Constitutional Theory of Federation,” op. cit. p. 40.

(11.) Cf. Carl Schmitt, Teoria de la Constitucion, tr. with an introduction by Francisco Ayala (Madrid: Alianza editorial, 1982).

(12.) On the difficulties of translating Ausnahmezustand,” see the translator’s note of Jean-Louis Schlegel in Theologic Politique, 1922,1969 (Paris: Gallimard, 1988), p. 15. On the concept of sovereignty in Schmitt, see my prologue to Teologia Politica (Buenos Aires: Editorial Struhart y Cia, 1998) 2nd ed.

(13.) Schmitt, “The Constitutional Theory of Federation,” op. cit., p. 55.

(14.) Schmitt, Der Huter der Verfassung, op. cit., p. 95.

(15.) Ibid., pp. 95-96.

(16.) See Jose Caamano Martinez: El Pensamiento Juridico Politico de Carl Schmitt, with a prologue by Luis Legaz y Lacambra (Santiago de Compostela: Editorial Porto y Cia, 1950), p. 159.

(17.) Ayala, in Schmitt, Teoria de la Constitucion, op. cit., p. 17.

(18.) G.L. Ulmen, “Schmitt and Federalism: Introduction to `The Constitutional Theory of Federation’,” in Telos 91 (Spring, 1992), pp. 16-25.

(19.) Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen: Text yon 1932 mit einem Vorwort und drei Corollarien (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1963), p. 10.

(20.) One of these occasions was a conference in 1930 in honor of Hugo Preuss, who had been Gierke’s student. See George Schwab, Carl Schmitt, La sfida dell’eccezione, introduction by Franco Ferrarotti, tr. by Nicola Porto (Laterza: Bari, 1986), p. 92.

(21.) Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, op. cit., pp. 24-25.

(22.) See Carl Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes: Meaning and Failure of a Political Symbol (1938), tr. by George Schwab and Erna Hilfstein (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996), pp. 71-72. Schmitt’s attack, however, was directed especially at Harold Laski’s and G.D.H. Cole’s theory of pluralism, that between 1914 and 1925 had generated, from positions close to English Socialism and the Fabians, the decentralization and distribution of state power. Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, op. cit., pp. 40-41. Schmitt’s polemical notes are from 1927, when Laski had already abandoned pluralism. But the theory was useful to him for reassessing his argument concerning the superiority of the state.

(23.) Carl Schmitt, La Unidad del Mundo (Madrid: Ateneo, 1951), p. 24.

(24.) See Luis Maria Bandieri, “El Federalismo Argentino en Novecientos o de Como Perdimos el Siglo,” paper read at the “IV Congreso National de Ciencia Politica,” UCA–SAAP, Buenos Aires, November 17-20, 1999.

(25.) See Luis Maria Bandieri, [??]Soberania Global vs. Soberania Nacional? (Hacia una Micropolitica Federativa), paper read at the Primera dornadas Nacionales de Derecho Natural, San Luis, Argentina, held June 14-16 2001.

[Telos, Winter 2002 p48(11]

When American Imperialism chased Spain out of Cuba (Philippe Conrad and Arnaud Imatz)

Friday, August 7th, 1970

A century ago, in 1898, the Cuban war broke out against Spain. It was an American war that was «altruistic and moral». Through this war, which called on the resources of misinformation and brainwashing, the United States began its career as a world power.

«All is quiet here; there are no problems and there’ll be no war, I want to come back»…«Stay where you are please and send us pictures, I am responsible for preparing the war…» This exchange of telegrams between Frederic Remington, the reporter-artist of the New York Journal, and his boss, William Randolph Hearst, on the eve of the Spanish-American conflict of 1898, just about sums up the situation at the moment. It shows the part that the manipulation of American public opinion played in unleashing this war. We shall have to wait until the First World War before governments, those of the Anglo-Saxon countries in the first place, have recourse on a such a grand scale to these propaganda tricks. But the stakes were considerable, for it was a question of chasing Europe – or more precisely a Spain that was only a shadow of its former self – from the American hemisphere in order to perfect the hegemony of the United States over the New World as a whole.


The right to possession of the world

America’s designs on Cuba and on the Caribbean sea simply and quite naturally completed the geopolitical grand design which was to make the new state into a continental power, opening onto the two oceans and able to impose its domination over the whole western hemisphere. These designs were clear even in the 1820s when John Quincy Adams considered that Cuba was the key to the Caribbean and that its proximity to Florida and the mouth of the Mississippi would one day make it necessary, «through the simple law of political gravitation», for America to seize it. What held Washington back at that time was fear of English reaction, for London might worry about the fate in store for Jamaica. For American officials, it was better to be patient and leave Cuba in the hands of an enfeebled Spain rather than engage in an action likely to justify British opposition. It was enough to wait for the right moment or for circumstances to appear most favourable for the realisation of what John Fiske called, in 1885, the «manifest destiny» of the United States.

In those last years of the century, projects for driving a canal through the Central American isthmus at Nicaragua or Panama gave new life to the already old desires of the Washington government. Several theorists at that time justified America’s ambitions, and in their wake their formed in Congress a whole «imperialist» clan demanding a foreign policy in keeping with the industrial dynamism which was making of the USA a world economic power. In 1885, Pastor Joshua Strong wroteOur country in which he exalted «the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race». Five years later, John W Burgess, professor of political sciences at the University of Columbia, insisted on the rights possessed by the Anglo-Saxons to world dominion: «Their mission is to lead political civilisation in the modern world and to bring this civilisation to the barbarous races […] since it is in the interest of world civilisation that law, order and true liberty, which is its corollary, should reign throughout the world…» That same year, Admiral T Mahan published his book The influence of Sea Power upon History, which foretells an impressive rise in the strength of America’s naval power. The United States must take control of the Caribbean Sea and of the future canal that will join the Atlantic to the Pacific. They must also push their expansion into the Pacific, notably into the Hawaiian archipelago. Under the presidency of the republican Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893), the secretary of State James Blaine was preparing the way for these various projects, but the election of the democrat Stephen G Cleveland seems to have put a stop to them, at least temporarily. However, his republican opponents were not put off, and Henry Cabot Lodge, the naval commission’s spokesman at the House of representatives, made a speech in 1895, wherein he claimed Cuba and the Hawaiian islands for the United States. There thus came into being a thoroughgoing «imperialist» movement inspired by that «jingoism» which, at the same period, lay behind the politics of a Joseph Chamberlain in England.

At the heart of this movement, the young Theodore Roosevelt was already there, writing to Cabot Lodge, his mentor in politics, that «the country needs a war». The elections in 1897, which bring the republican William Mac Kinley to power, enable the young Roosevelt to become Under-Secretary of State for the Navy, in 1897. Two months later, he explained to the officer cadets at the Naval College «that the diplomat must be the servant and not the master of the soldier». In November of the same year, he wrote to a naval officer to say that he hoped for a war against Spain «to aid the Cubans in a humanitarian concern». But above all «to guarantee complete liberty for America from European domination… This war will be a great lesson, and we shall profit greatly from it». In December 1897, when commercial circles and the economic press were showing their opposition to a war for Cuba, the hot-headed under-secretary of State affirmed that «we shall have this war for the liberty of Cuba despite the timidity of commercial interests…»


Press campaigns and sending of weapons

The United States had already offered on several occasions since 1843 to buy from Spain the main island of the Caribbean, but each time the government of Madrid had amiably turned down these offers. In 1850, therefore, the American administration encouraged the installation in New York of a Cuban council favourable to the island’s independence, and from 1865 Washington supported these rebels by supplying them with arms and money. Between 1868 and 1878, the first war of independence came to nothing. The United States’ interest in the island did not wane, however, for it was they who bought nearly all the sugar exported from the island, and American capital investments in this market amounted to fifty million dollars of the island’s economy. Founded in 1892, José Martí’s Cuban revolutionary party was supported financially by Edwin F Atkins, the American sugar «king».

When a fresh insurrection broke out on the island in February 1895, the democrat president Cleveland and his Secretary of State Bryan had no wish to intervene directly. The death of Martí, killed in the fighting in May, did not put an end to the rebellion. The North American press then undertook to set public opinion against Spain. It sounded off against the death of several Cuban revolutionaries, denounced the fact that American citizens were in jail on the island, and exalted the courage of Evangelina Cisneros, the daughter of a rebel leader, whom W R Hearst had removed from Cuba so that she might be given a triumphant welcome in New York… It finally published a false letter from Dupuy de Lôme, the Spanish ambassador to Washington, in which Mac Kinley was presented as a «low level politician».During that time, from June 1895 to May 1897, forty-two naval convoys brought arms to the insurgents from the American coasts.

On the island itself, however, Spain’s new representative, General Blanco, succeeded in forming a government by uniting the reformists and autonomists, but excluding those in favour of independence who were supported by the USA. It was a few days later, following the riots in Havana, that the battleship Maine entered the port, on a «courtesy» visit.

It is now known very precisely that the decision to go to war against Spain, if she persisted in her refusal to sell Cuba, was taken in 1896. A recent military history congress, held in March 1998, has revealed the detail of the plans prepared for this eventuality. The scenario was then written down. On 25 January 1898, the battleship Maine, therefore, entered the port of Havana, followed fifteen days later by the cruiser Montgomery which had just laid anchor in the port of Matanzas. Three weeks later, on 15 February, the accidental explosion of a submarine mine sank the Maine in the port of Havana. Two hundred and sixty American sailors were killed in the explosion, which everyone now recognises as having been purely accidental, and some even think it was plainly provoked by the Americans(it is interesting to note that no officer was among the victims; they were all at a reception in the town). The official American report is no less accusatory of Spain. Madrid proposed entrusting the enquiry to a mixed commission, but Washington refused. The Spanish government then turned towards its European counterparts and solicited the arbitration of Pope Leo XIII, but obtained nothing, even though it accepted the immediate armistice imposed by Mac Kinley on 10 April. The American senate will soon vote for the necessary funding for «an altruistic and moral war which will bring about the liberation of Cuba», and war was declared on 24 April. A «splendid little war» for the Secretary of State John Hay, a war which rekindled that led by Spain against the Cuban rebels, a conflict which, according to General Blanco «would have come to an end, had it not been for American malevolence».

It was in the Philippines that the Americans struck their first blows since Admiral Dewey destroyed Admiral Montojo’s fleet in the harbour of Manila, outside Cavite. The conquest of Porto Rico was a military walkover and, at Cuba, Admiral Cervera’s fleet was totally outstripped on the technical level by the American ships, and destroyed on 3 July outside Santiago. Fifteen thousand Americans landed at the end of the month of June, but still Colonel Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders had to put up a furious fight against the troops of Generals Linares and Vara del Rey, on 16 July, and overcame the defences of the hill of San Juan. In coming to take part in the battle himself, Roosevelt put his deeds in line with his words. On 17 July, Santiago de Cuba capitulated. On 12 August, through French mediation, an armistice was concluded prior to peace negotiations which ended in the Treaty of Paris, signed on the following 10 December.

Spain was made to abandon all sovereignty over Cuba, she also lost Puerto Rico and had to yield the Philippines and Guam to the USA for twenty million dollars. A little later, she also had to cede to the conqueror – who had seized the Hawaiian Islands during the month of August – those of the Mariannas, the Carolinas and the Palaos. It was a peace that seemed like a second death of the Spanish Empire and which opened the way to a spectacular rise in the power of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt will be able to wave his big stick in the Caribbean. Cuba, San Domingo, Nicaragua and the Panama, separated from Columbia in 1903, will become American quasi-protectorates. Once annexed, the Philippines will become the theatre of a revolt, which will last four years at a cost of five thousand dead to the new occupants. Cuba will endure a four-year military occupation, and it is only after accepting a treaty placing her in a state of total subjection to Washington that the island will be able to have its «sovereignty» recognised. The «corollary» is Roosevelt with his Monroe doctrine henceforth reserving the right of the United States to intervene in the affairs of neighbouring countries if deemed necessary for the re-establishment of order. Senator Beaveridge, from Indiana, can now consider that«God has not prepared the peoples of English and Teutonic tongue over a thousand years simply for them to admire themselves vainly and passively. No, he made us to be the organising masters of the world in order to establish order where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress in order to conquer the forces of reaction throughout the whole world. He has placed within us the gift of governing so that we may give government to savage and senile peoples. Without such a force, the world would relapse into barbarity and the night. And of all our race, he has designated the American people as his chosen nation to begin the regeneration of the world.»


To justify intervention, all means are good!

Arnaud Imatz

Certain papers of the New York press played a decisive role in preparing public opinion to accept American intervention in Cuba. The main papers here were theNew York Journal, bought by William Randolph Hearst in 1895 and the World, owned by Joseph Pulitzer, to which we should add the Sun and the Herald. This press cultivated sensationalism to the point of practising a veritable disinformation campaign as a way of «advancing the event». […]

For this popular press, avid for spectacular events likely to appeal to the imagination of the masses, Cuba will provide particularly rich material. A most rudimentary kind of manichaeism thus presents the Spaniards as uncouth and sadistic brutes, representatives of a backward country, subjects of an anachronistic and corrupt monarchy. They were attributed with every kind of crime and atrocity, which happily completed the «black legend» developed by Anglo-Saxon historiography regarding the conquest of America by the subjects of Charles V and of Philippe II. It was a very useful way for the Anglo-Saxon colonisers of North America to have their own treatment of the Indians forgotten. Terror, violence and famine were the rule in Cuba for a press all too content to reproduce the communiqués from the Junta Cubana, the council of exiles installed in New York. The «testimonies» of victims filled up entirely fabricated dossiers, containing detailed accounts of Spanish depravity. […]

The reassembling and regrouping of whole populations into camps led to a heavy mortality rate among the prisoners, as a result of epidemics, which also struck the Spanish soldiers. But Hearst and his journalists did not skimp over the figures. Six hundred thousand dead, not one less, more or less one third of the island’s population, in other words a veritable genocide before the word was coined. In fact, the most serious studies undertaken by American research workers in the course of the following decades have revealed that human losses for the period 1895-1898, including the Spanish victims, did not exceed the number one hundred thousand. The lie was exposed with the publication in 1932 of a work initiated by the Baton Rouge University in Louisiana, called Public Opinion and the Spanish-American War. A study in war propaganda. None of which was of much importance forty or so years later. By blowing American popular opinion white hot, by exploiting the false letter from Ambassador Dupuy de Lôme, by giving credit to the myth of an attack responsible for the explosion of the Maine, Hearst and Pulitzer had played their part and made it possible to justify America’s control over Cuba.

On Ernst Jünger (Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi)

Friday, August 7th, 1970

It is a significant honour to address the theme of Gestalt, of freedom, in the work of Ernst Jünger here in Euskalherria. The continuing struggle of the Basque nation for independence raises vital issues for all mankind in our time: issues which Jünger, in his long life, has never ceased to examine and illuminate. Here, it is not an academic matter, but a matter of life and death – if a methodology fails to result in the desired goal, it is the methodology that should be scrapped, and not the goal.

In the Jüngerian framework, it is not surprising that the Basque people are first betrayed by dictatorship and then by constitutional democracy. Next door in France, the primary model of the democratic constitution, enshrining rights of freedom, claims also its right to forbid its citizens to cede from the national state. You may choose everything except the right to reject the englobing system, thus in Spain, America and Russia. This has not been understood. Everyone will vote in the coming election. The structuralist state is nothing other than a receptor of debt to the new power structure of oligarchy finance, whose personnel are elected by no known franchise. Solzhenitsyn has bitterly demonstrated that the horror of the Gulag was not an abuse of the Soviet constitution but an enthusiastic application of it.

This century, which has been Jünger’s life reveals itself as fraught with contradictions. Its greatest victims, after enormous suffering, have in turn become the executioners. In 1945, according to History Professor Norman Stone at Oxford University, we have the macabre spectacle of Doctor Mengele driving around the ruins of Hamburg with a case full of human eyes, extracted for his bizarre research, from concentration camp victims. In 1989, on BBC television, we have the heart-rending appeal of a woman doctor for a hundred glass eyes for the children, aged from six months to twelve years, victims of the Israeli army, which has targeted the eye to terrorise the families of the intifada. Moral contradiction. Political contradiction too, embedded in the once potent dialectic between left and right. Thatcher kisses Gorbachov. Les extrêmes se touchent.

Jünger has written that the first World War brought an end to the monarchy, and the second World War brought an end to the nation state. The formation of the European entity indicates the beginning of the super-state’s structuration of the world. But more importantly, behind it, the beginning of a new world financial system moving with inexorable logic, towards a one world currency and a world state.

It is against this changing background of evolving and dissolving power structure that the Jüngerian corpus emerges. However, in order to approach and appreciate Jünger’s magisterial position, it is necessary to locate him in a different topology with a different set of original thinkers, none of whom play the sterile and outmoded games of dialectical persecution that belong to the bleak and barren hypocrisy of the Cold War years. So we must try to grasp what the dynamics of a new thinking and assessing are, once dialectical materialism and psychological determinism are left behind. For this reason, Jünger can be seen to be addressing the future, and at the end of the century, to be announcing a new era.

What, in intellectual terms, has ended, quite simply, is structuralism. We can now survey the ruins of a brilliant complex of an interlocking systems that reins supreme in the dark days of the second half of this century. It cannot now escape us that the dominant orthodoxy did indeed uphold the status quo, which was there to empower the emergent forces of the new financial power system. In the end, the dialectical critique emerged as the defence mechanism of world banking. The apprehension of the future remained in the hands of the poets and the philosophers. The first of these among the poets was Jünger, and among the philosophers, Heidegger. Nietzsche had declared that philosophers did not write for the present but for the future, and Heidegger has referred to this phrase on more than one occasion. Both Professors Vintila Horia and Stefan Kohl have referred to Jünger’s connection to Heidegger and Heisenberg, but please permit me to refer to it yet again since its importance cannot be avoided.

Georg Gadamer has spoken vividly of the enormous intellectual excitement that vibrated through the philosophical world on the emergence of Heidegger’s first masterpiece, ‘Sein und Zeit’ in 1927 as, believe it or not, Jürgen Habermas wrote in a quote from the graduate faculty of philosophy Autumn 1977, Journal Six, page 156, he said: “‘Sein und Zeit’ is the most significant philosophical event since Hegel’s ‘Phenomenology.’ What, in this and several ensuing books, Heidegger had laid bare, was the deception at the heart of the Kantian description of subjectivity. The impact of this phenomenological unveiling of the observational procedure, which set the absolute observer over and against the encompassed object and which claimed an illusory purity within the event, resonated through all the phenomenalogically based sciences: firstly and vitally, history, then psychology – in particular the psychoanalytical methods, anthropology, sociology and finally linguistics.

This work had changed forever the terms of the philosophical discourse. Heidegger’s insight into the nature of technique was the result of his phenomenological exploration of the ‘everyday’ procedure which resulted from its all embracing exigencies. This exploration laid bare, or peeled away, those inter-connected relationships of human action, that had hitherto been unquestioned because not isolated and identified, out of the way of assumed factors and unrealised dependencies. Heidegger extracated the human creature in an event of such distinctive character he felt obliged to rename man ‘Dasein.’ What he had done was nothing less than cast aside the image of man as the enslaved end product of unconfronted functionality and passivity. He replaced it with a view of man as a project oriented being, active and engaged in encountering his meanings and his mortality.

So what Heidegger opened up for the future was nothing less than the phenomenology of freedom, which by implication, laid bare the mechanisms of slavery which made peace look like war, legislated liberty produce slave camps, abstract research produce nuclear weaponry, and psychotherapy produce passive consumers. This, the modern revolution in thinking, still bitterly opposed today, took place in a very particular intellectual ambience. Heidegger’s act of breaking the bonds of out-moded philosophical views of existence indeed of things themselves, let alone man, scarcely had happened but for the discoveries taking place in his time, in the realm of high-energy physics.

Not only the discovery, but the thinking of Niels Bohr and Heisenberg, were the radical elements in the Heideggerian breakthrough. What was so deeply understood by the scientists and the philosophers of the late twenties and early thirties was with increasing discomfort ignored by the political theorists of the dark fifties, that the very foundational view of the basic matter of the universe was smashed forever. The Newtonian billiard ball of an atom had given way to a non-logical world of waves and particles. Heisenberg’s theory of indeterminacy had invalidated the visa of the Kantian absolute observer. The crude binarism of crude dialectical method with its inner dynamic of triadic conflict, leading to the enormous complexity of structuralist systems, had in fact lost its solid foundation before a world view that spoke of enormous energies: fusion, fission and paradox.

It is against the background, and later the foreground of these two innovators, Heidegger and Heisenberg, that the work Jünger work is situated. His first novel, ‘Tempest of Steel’ dealt with his experience of the first World War. The most decorated soldier on that carnage, Jünger did not emerge a militarist. He writes as a fighting man before the horrific slaughter of trench warfare, Jünger adopted the survival response that was to lie behind every step of his subsequent development. He clearly recognised that the enormous destructive energy released by that war, could not be turned back by one man. His solution was to take it on, confirm it, and yet be free of it. In the phrase of the I Ching, “Embrace tiger, and return to mountain.”

Yet his spirit rebelled against the passivity implied in the acceptance of great events. The rest of his life was to be the search for the meaning to fight uncompromisingly for freedom. In 1929 he wrote his first glimpse of the way out of nihilism, a fragile hope expressed in the darkness, that was to become over twenty years later the triumphant text of defiance, ‘Der Waldgang’, ‘La Emboscadura’. He wrote: “One must work in solitude as a man who opens a clearing in virgin forest, sustained by the unique hope that somewhere in its depths, others are working to the same end.” That was 1929. In 1932, his first masterwork was published, ‘Der Arbeiter’. Jünger declared: “It remains to destroy the legend according to which the essential quality of the worker is an economic quality.” Jünger was taking on a much deeper theme, and to do this he had to abandon the language of political debate. Yet he was not abandoning the struggle, but rather waging it on new territory. In place of argument he used myth in a new way but using a new appreciation of its power, which had only been identified and expressed for the first time by a new school of anthropologists in Germany. W.F. Otto’s ‘Dionysos, Mythos und Kultus’ appeared one year after ‘Der Arbeiter’.

Jünger gave to this mythic form the name of ‘Gestalt.’ ‘The worker’ thus, was not a structural concept, certainly not defined by his structural position within the capital frame. Nor did it imply a coherent historical group of labourers. What was the Gestalt? Heidegger, in his famous reply to Jünger’s text ‘Über die Linie’ said: “For you, Jünger, the Gestalt stands for what is only accessible in a seeing, to be found in this seeing, which among the Greeks which was called ‘Idein’ – a word which Plato employed for a look which considered not the changing of sense perception, but the immutable, the being, the ‘idea.’ You also characterise the Gestalt as the calm being. The Gestalt is certainly not an idea, in the sense of the meaning of modern philosophy, any more than it is by consequence a regulative representation in the sense of Kant.”

Heidegger preferred to locate the Gestalt of Jünger as a Nietzschean event. Heidegger hailed the work as a weighty achievement, having done what no prior Nietzschean work had done. He said, “It had undertaken to make possible an experience of being and of the way in which it is in the light of the Nietzschean project of being and ‘will to power’.” Despite this impressive Heideggerian definition, one must take into account Jünger’s own view. In conversation with me, he categorically refuted the idea that the Gestalt was platonic. He pointed out, “You cannot see a platonic idea.” Rather, he referred the matter to the great discussion which took place between Schiller and Goethe. There, Goethe made exactly this point, when Schiller defined the Goethean description of the metamorphosis of plants as being merely the platonic idea. Goethe’s concern went much deeper: he was trying to move the modern imagination into a new way of seeing biological phenomena as entities moving through time and thus taking their meaning from their full realisation in nature, from seed to decay.

It would seem that the Gestalt is best understood, as part of a mythic world. If we take Walter Burkert, the Swiss anthropologist as representing the best new structuralist view of mythology we can accept his definition: “A tale structured by a sequence of actions applied to facts of common importance.” We then find that Jünger divided his writings between analytical work, defining those facts of common importance translating them into a mythic drama of conflicting forces and forms and then followed these texts with mythic tales which explore the deep crises of our time. In the first category we place ‘The Worker’, ‘The Wall of Time’, ‘La Emboscadura’ and in the second, ‘On the Marble Cliffs’ – ‘Auf den Marmorklippen’, ‘Heliopolis’ and ‘Eumeswil’.

The Nazi Party’s reaction to ‘The Worker’ was savage. Writing in the Völkischer Beobachter, Thilo von Trotha in October 1932 warned the author that he had entered the realm of “Bullets in the head.” The domination which was outlined in the book was not at all the domination the Nazi Party had in mind. They saw their role as one of mastery over technology. What Jünger was proposing was something quite other. Yet in seeing what he saw, he did not propose a romantic withdrawal from technique, but as always, following his heroic realism, he calls on modern man to embrace technology. At the same time, what he had seen was the inescapable power of the all embracing technical phenomenon. There, in 1932, Jünger had recognised that technology did not represent a set of complex tools for man’s use, but a new power – technique, which had its own reality and inner logic to which it would in the end make man subservient.

Jünger identifies modern man as under the Gestalt of the worker. Each one of them is defined within the all embracing system of technique. It is in this sense that Heidegger declared Jünger to have defined nihilism for out time. Yet the author’s intention was not merely descriptive but prescriptive. His viewpoint, always being firstly to accept the vast force-wave engulfing the time, and then to prepare the strategy of survival: escape and ultimately victory over it. Firstly he announced, “Bourgeois society is condemned to death.” Then he warned, “Society is renewed by simulating attacks against itself. Its imprecise character, or rather, its absence of character, permits it to absorb even the most violent negation of itself.”

One might at this point refer to the events of 1968, which succeeded in placing a Rothschild in the presidential palace in Paris, Georges Pompidou. He went on to identify the key forces of action: he said, “What we must identify is the existence of a dictatorship of economic thought in itself which englobes every possible dictatorship and limits its decisions.” That, in 1932. Today we can read Lord Lever, Financial Advisor to the British Cabinet, declare that what little power governments have over world markets is unpredictable and dangerous, and that the time has come for the unification of the super banks into a central authority which may control world markets rationally.

Jünger makes his case that economics is simply pernicious, industrial process in itself, and as such, part of the total system that is technique. What is at issue insists is neither economic liberty nor economic power but power in general. From the moment that our experience takes the form of Gestalt, we become Gestalt. It is not some new grandeur of thought, but a way of seeing which, once taken on, reveals the moving Gestalts of the time and their relationships with one another. The individual is no longer the unique entity of the masses any more than the atom is the unique particle of matter, for it, too, now can be seen as a Gestalt, dynamic and flowing. Jünger explained: “A great number of men do not constitute a Gestalt and partition of the Gestalt does not lead to the individual, for the Gestalt is the all which contains more than the sum of its parts. A man is more than the sum of atoms, limbs, organs and humours of which he is composed. A married couple is more than a married woman. A family is more than a man, a woman and a child. A friendship is more than two men, and a people is more than what can be expressed in the results of a referendum, or a sum of political votes.” Ladies and gentlemen, are not the Basque people something more than the results of a referendum?

Jünger continues: “It is very important for us to recover an awareness that a corpse is not a kind of body deprived of a soul. Between the body at the second of death, and the corpse at the next second, there is not the slightest connection. That is already implied by the fact that the body encompasses more than the sum of its parts, while the corpse is identical to the sum of its anatomical parts. It is erroneous that the soul, like a flame, leaves behind it dust and ashes, but it is of the highest importance that the Gestalt cannot be reduced to the elements of fire and earth, for this fact of man as Gestalt belongs to eternity. It is in the Gestadlt, independent from every moral appreciation, that there resides innate value, immutable, and imperishable, its existence the most highest and most profound confirmation. The more we engage in bullfighting, the more we become intimately persuaded that hidden behind it is a calm being, and that every acceleration of speed is only the translation of an original, imperishable language.”

From this perception, Jünger, like Nietzsche before him, draws a wild force. He finds in man an energy which is not the product of either idealism or materialism which he defines as heroic realism. He sums up this metaphysical reflection by saying: “The vision of the Gestalt is a revolutionary act in that it recognises a being in the complete and unitary plenitude of his life.

It must be clear from these quotations that what Jünger is doing is winning back for man his centrality to existence just at the very point in history where he is most reduced and dehumanised. Jünger is working on the imagination of modern man in the same zone of concern as the philosopher, Heidegger. His grasp of the nature of modern technique and its systemic control over both the destinies and the identities of men was astonishingly exact in its understanding – not only of how technique functioned but how it would in its future projection. This was a world, not dominated by technical artefacts – the washing machine, the car, but rather by networks of highways, electrification systems, water supply. He saw us as belonging to a series of societies without even being aware, and thus being in common with all its members. So I have taken on a social identity as an electricity consumer, a road user, as now a television watcher – all this without understanding my reality. The rulers of the infrastructure are the rulers of the individual. The state dominates all men in a new slavery which is chosen and voted for by the masses. They want it. There are no classes now, in as much as they all life under the dominion of technique. It is in this that the fullest nihilism is expressed. But fully in accordance of Heidegger’s reading of Nietzsche, Jünger insists that the way to freedom lies in plunging into the new reality, embracing it, taking it on, and by a force, going beyond it. Just as his ignorant critics had only seen in his first phase an enthusiastic military man, so in his second could be seen a surrender to automation, to systemic power, and later, as we will see, in his third phase, just at the point when he has made his valedictory call to freedom he can be accused of calling for surrender to the now almost imminent arrival of the world state.

In his offering of a sometimes dazzling forecast of technical progress, we cannot fail to recognise his true intent. He is offering the modern paedea, or inner education, which will develop the new man, the ‘overman’ who will achieve the transvaluation of all value. Thus man, the worker, the technological, terminal unit, the button-presser, the passive receptor of all technological procedures to which he submits with such somnambulistic enthusiasm, can be snatched from the oblivion of the masses by recovering his deepest power, stubbornly, and against the evidence, utterly against the evidence he confirms man’s freedom. He refuses the dialectic between culture and nature, technique and the organic.

The Gestadlt of the worker is surpassed in a new image, he explains: “Nothing may exist which cannot be conceived of as work. Work is the rhythm of the arm, the of the thoughts, of the heart, the life of night and day, science, love, art, faith, ritual, war. Work is the vibration of the atom and the force which moves the stars and the solar system.” The individual is free once he has accepted that he is indeed the worker. To distinguish the ground for the new man, he makes a distinction between two types of individual. The ordinary individual represents the single unit of mass man, the zombie watching his television and voting away his freedom in elections which are themselves technical apparatuses pre-designed to further enslavement. The other he names ‘Der Einzelne’ – the isolated one. Once this new man has been differentiated from being an individual in the old sense, not differentiated from the masses – that is the romantic and futile struggle of the individual, he becomes the transformative force in existence.

To him, the machine becomes the organ of the speech of technique. He is the speaker. The evolution of technique is not limitless and it is here that the power of the Einzelne – the isolated one, which is free to decide, ends. Once the limited nature of resources and thus technique is grasped, the end game has already begun. Jünger uncompromisingly points out that nevertheless, that end game cannot be other than its logical conclusion which is a global domination in world state, in technical totality and imperial unity. As he puts it: “Technique, contains in itself the roots and germs of its ultimate potentialisation.”

Again, Jünger recognises that alongside the global power of technique will come a new awareness of the globe as a unity, and identity, which cries out to be saved from the apparently irresistible logic of technique, mysteriously named ‘progress.’ He says, “There will be no space, no life able to resist this phenomenon which from a long time ago has carried the seal of a great barbaric invasion under multiple forms: colonisation, peopling of continents, exploration of deserts and birds and forests, extermination of indigenous people, the wiping out of living laws and religions, secret and open destruction of social groups and nations, as well as revolutionary and war-like actions. It little matters who triumphs and who disappears – disappearance and triumph announce the domination of the worker. The conflicts are plurivocal while the questioning is univocal. The chaotic violence of the uprising contains already the rigorous criterion of a future legitimacy.”

It is against this situation that he insists that the distinction between the mechanical and the organic world is the mark of weakness which reveals the fantasy structure of the political projection. It is the denial of man. The Gestalt of the worker allows one to see beyond the projecting and diffuse the distinction of value. Man’s role is understood at last as being a mediating role and not a terminal role. Nevertheless, man will continue is subservience to the technical project until the system has reached its end. Jünger indicates that the end will be defined when national democracy becomes the unique and universal organisational form of the peoples. This will be the instrument which will willingly surrender itself to world state dominance. In this society the mass will equal the sum of the individuals who compose it. It is then that the solitary one will be called upon to act.

There is no doubt that ‘Der Arbeiter’ leaves us with unresolved conflicts and intolerable oppositions. The delineation of nihilism is indeed complete. Despite the insistence on a coming transvaluation of values, and an overman the form of the being has not yet emerged into the light. It was to take the foretold disaster to work itself out and the violent events of the mid century to thrust Jünger into a further engagement with his life’s theme. With ‘Under the Marble Cliffs’ he had set himself against the fatal flaw embedded in dictatorship. The plot to assassinate Hitler was the historic moment which Jünger could not step aside from, yet it contained a further paradox: his guilt proved by the Gestapo, his past heroism as a soldier won him a life reprieve from the very dictator whose life he had plotted to take. He was living most deeply the contradictions of his time.

His private and anguished life was expressed only in his intimate journals from 1939 to 1948. In 1949 he released his novel ‘Heliopolis’, a myth that bore in its narrative the models of each type of political tyranny: dictatorship, elitism and democracy. Its core message however, was an act of rebellion, hope and a new beginning. ‘Heliopolis’, to some the perfect Jünger book, is a tale of a superb city of palaces, ancient quarters, new edifices, ports and castles. In it, technology has become magical power, as we experience it today. Each person carries a communication terminal linking each to everybody else and central authority. It serves as identity card, passport, cheque book, newspaper, agenda, encyclopaedia and access to archives. The city is in perpetual crisis following the collapse of the world empire. Racked by sudden incendiaries, explosions, it is starved by previous devastations. The old by chivalric values have been swept away. Anarchy and terror rule. Power in the city is divided between a judge and a pro-consul. The judge rules by terror and false science, bureaucracy, torture, propaganda and police power are his instruments of control. The pro-consuls power is based on the army, it is conservative and elitist, but forbidding the slightest access to emotion.

The novel’s hero is Lucius de Geer, a military officer. Through him we enter a world where a group of cultured, engaged people look in vain for a way to restore sanity to the violent activity within the city. In their evenings together they gather to explore the meanings of existence, like the character’s of Eliot’s ‘Wasteland’ who declare: “These fragments I have shored against my ruin.” The centrepiece of the novel is a platonic reunion of friends with a common culture, discussing together. In the symposium, an immensely moving event, beautifully told by Jünger, the poet, Ortner one of the group, decides to tell the story of his life. The story in itself is mythic, simple and powerful. On the face of it the tale could be interpreted simply as saying that money cannot by you love, or that the pursuit of wealth destroys the heart, or is it anything so simple as the idea that the love of a true woman is worth all the wealth of the world? Though it confirms this. What this remarkable tale unfolds, and it is nothing other than the myth of Midas, is that gaining wealth with the illusion that it brings power is a devastating sickness, a neurosis of such intensity that to continue it must deny life itself. It is not a moral tale. Carefully it delineates the obsession with making money and increasing it is nothing other than the burying of the self in every day procedures which blot out the reality of mortality.

The pursuit of money is the flight from death. Acquiring possessions is intensifying the anxiety of time. It is a devaluation of all values, doomed to disaster. Ortner’s rejection of the money system provides his opening to woman and his salvation. It is also a Faustian tale in the Goethean sense.

The central character’s application of the tale is part of his awakening. He categorically states: “Happiness is found beyond historical processes and their achievements.” He now speaks with clear authority, re-reading his primal vision of ‘The Worker’: “One can now estimate that technique, in its principle field of application is at the end of its career. The provision, its potential energy, goes beyond the consumption. Unaware, technique has entered its third phase. The first was Titanic, it supervised the world of the machine. The second was rational, and led to perfect automation. The third is magic, for it gives life to the automaton in giving them a meaning. Technique takes on the character of enchantment, it yields to the desire. To rhythm it adds melody.”

Now he calls out of the earth must close in on itself be declared a vital living space. Lucius’ awakening comes when, moved by compassion, he alienates himself from the powers that be, in attempting to save the life of an alien whom he recognises as a wise man. In the process of this encounter lies the liberating event of the mythic tale, for Lucius breaks free at the very point when outwardly all freedom has been removed. Utterly in the hand of a ruthless police power surrounded by the technical apparatus of control, he finds the root to a new source of power in the depths of his own being.

In the key scene of the book, Lucius ritually partakes of the psychotropic drug which not only frees him from his fear, but confirms him in his struggle to guide men to be free socially and personally. The hallucinogen is not, properly speaking, a drug but an antidote. For in opening the self to itself, it opens it to the Divine. In doing so it imbues man with a value which in itself is the transvaluation of all values, and means the end of the enslaving state. Liberated, Lucius sets out on a voyage with his wife and his student to prepare the education of a new kind of human being. He speaks openly in the last pages of the book of the search for a supreme discontent which will awaken in men and women this urge to freedom. He declares: “The game must have exhausted all its possibilities. Then only, can one dare the impossible. We are searching for those who have escaped into the stratosphere. We approve of the doctrine of Zarothustra according to which, man must be surpassed by the overman. We do not see a moral obligation but a historical necessity. The following stage will be the surpassing of the overman. He will be broken on the human, which will draw from this encounter a superior power.”

Lucius set out on his voyage among the stars. What he now possesses, he is told, is an existential passport – he is free. The final pages of ‘Heliopolis’ are most beautifully written, and spiritually elevating. If he had written only this, it would have been enough to enthrone him as the great sage and creative writer of the century, but there was more to come. Two years later, he produced what must be considered as the summit of his art – the tremendous ‘Der Waldgang’ – ‘La Emboscadura’. I can think of no greater intellectual adventure for a young man or woman in their twenties, than to come upon this book, and to discover in it their own worth and meaning, and see a way not just to self-transformation but to changing the human situation on this imperilled planet. It could be considered the ‘book of Lucius’, his hero of ‘Heliopolis.’

The book announces: “We need a new concept of freedom.” Defining the state system by the metaphor of a boat, and not just any liner, but indeed the Titanic, he insists that the first question of existence is, “Is it possible to stay on the boat and preserve one’s independence of decision?” The central Gestalt of the book ‘Der Waldgang’, ‘La Emboscadura’, is the one who goes into the forest, not a romantic or literal image – the forest he defines as the non-temporal. It is the inner zone, where the conscious break is made with the horrific lie of banal, now magical, social contract. It is not a form of anarchy opposed to the mechanical world. He says, “Man is too profoundly trapped in his construction. He sells himself below his value and loses balance. He goes towards catastrophe, great risk and suffering. He forces himself into places without exit, they lead to his downfall, yet strangely it is precisely there, forbidden, condemned, fugitive, that he meets himself in his imperishable, indivisible substance. He lays bare the fictions of time and spirit to know himself in all his power.”

Jünger is now militant in his call to fight for freedom. He says, “It is not to do with this liberty which protests or emigrates, but it is a liberty which decided to engage in the struggle.” Here is a new kind of man and woman even committed, not by chance but by choice, to health, independent of the neuroses of the enslaved masses with their terrible fear of sickness and their reliance on state medicine. “‘The Emboscadura’, ‘Der Waldgang’,” he explains, “is the concrete individual acting in the concrete case. He does not need theories, nor laws forged by party bosses in order to know where the ‘right’ lies. Everything becomes simple, if some purity remains in him. We have seen that the great surprise of The Forest is the encounter with oneself, the unalterable core of that self.” He arrives at his supreme statement: “The real problem is that the great majority do not want to be free, for it frightens them. One must be free to become free, for freedom is existence.” To deal with this matter is the transaction of the truth. ‘Freiheit ist Existenz’ – Freedom is existence, which means that there can be no submission except to the Divine. This is called Islam, but that is a theme for another day.

Between the Gods and the Titans (Alain de Benoist)

Friday, August 7th, 1970

Alain de Benoist considers the achievement of the writer Ernst Juenger and his ideal of the Worker in the context of the Conservative Revolution.

This article first appeared as part of the central theme in Nouvelle Ecole No.40 (41, rue Barrault, 13 arr. 75 Paris) under the title Ernst Juenger: La Figure du Travailleur entre les Dieux et les Titans. We have translated it and are reprinting it in two parts in considerably abridged form with acknowledgements. Ernst Juenger is arguably the most provocative of all the writers of the Conservative Revolution. (Among other remarks attributed to him is the one that the abolition of torture is an indication of decadence in a society.) Even his most provocative utterences have the intellectual virtue, however, of forcing his opponents to articulate their opposition to him in an intelligent manner. Scorpion readers able to read French may be interested to know that Alain de Benoist is the general editor responsible for the publication of a new series of French translations of the writers of the Conservative Revolution, published by Pardes, (B.P. 47, 45390 Puiseaux 45390 France).

FOR ARMIN MOHLER, author of the classic manual on the German Conservative Revolution (Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland), Ernst Juenger’s Der Arbeiter was one of those which he “still could not pick up without his hands shaking”. For Mohler Der Arbeiter is more than a philosophy, it is a work of poetry. The word is apt, above all if we consider that all poetry possesses an incipient quality: it simultaneously penetrates the world and unveils the divine. Der Arbeiter possesses a metaphysical quality which takes it far beyond the historical and political context in which it was written.

Ernst Juenger was born on 28th March 1895 in Heidelberg, the son of Ernst Georg (1868-1943), a chemist and assistant to research chemist Viktor Meyer. He had one sister and five brothers, two of whom died very young. Juenger went to school in Hannover and Scwarzenberg, later in Brunswick and finally in Hannover again, as well as having attended Scharnhorst Realschule (secondary school). In 1911 he joined the Wunstdorf section of the Wandervogel and in the same year published his first poem, Unser Leben, in their local journal. In 1913 he left home to sign up at Verdun for the French Foreign Legion. After a few months, when the young man had already begun training in Algeria, his father was able to persuade him to return to Germany, where he attended the Hannover Guild Institute. It was at this time that he became familiar with the works of Nietzsche.

The First World War began for Germany on August 1st 1914 and Juenger signed up on the first day. He rose in the ranks to become lieutenant, was wounded three times before being awarded the Iron Cross First Class on December 16th 1916. In February 1917 he became Stosstruppfuehrer (leader of an assault battalion). This led to the experience of hand-to-hand fighting in the trenches. Juenger was decorated with the Ritterkreuz of the Order of the Hohenzollerns. He finished the war in hospital, having been wounded fourteen times. Juenger was also awarded the Cross Pour le merite, the highest award in the German army. Only twelve subalterns in the German army received this award during the First World War, among the other eleven the future Marshal Rommel.

Between 1918 and 1923, in the barracks at Hannover, Juenger began to write in earnest, inspired by his experiences at the front. In Stahlgewittern (In Hurricans of Steel), first published in 1919 and reedited in 1922, was an immediate success. There followed Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis (1922) Das Waeldchen 125 (1924) and Feur und Blut (1925) (The Fight within, Copse 125, Fire and Blood). Juenger also wrote on specialist military themes in Militaer-Wochenblatt and became known as something of an expert on military matters; but he did not feel at ease in a peacetime army. In 1923 he left the Reichswehr and entered Leipsic University to study biology, zoology and philosophy. In 1925 he married the 19 year old Gretha von Jeinsen. His political views developed rapidly in the political tumult of the time. In the space of a few months Juenger had become one of the principle representatives of the so-called national-revolutionaries of the Conservative Revolution. In September 1925, a former commando leader, Helmut Franke, launched the review Die Standarte which set out to “contribute towards a spiritual deepening of the Front mentality”. Juenger was on the editorial board along with another “nationalist soldier”, Franz Schauwecker. The journal began life as a supplement to the magazine Der Stahlhelm, which was the organ of the Stahlhelm movement. (This was an active association of former combatants opposed to the Treaty of Versailles. In 1925 it had 250 thousand members. After the national socialists came to power in 1933, the association was forcibly amalgamated with the regime’s official old combattants’ organization (NSDFB) and by 1935 no trace of Der Stahlhelm remained.) In Die Standarte Juenger immediately adopted a radical tone, quite different to that of most of the Stahlhelm adherents. In an article published in October 1925, he criticised the theory of the “stab in the back” (Dolchstoss), which was accepted by almost all nationalists, namely that the German army was not defeated at the front but by a “stab in the back” at home. Juenger also pointed out that certain revolutionaries of the far left had fought in the war with distinction. This caused an uproar in Die Stahhelm and the movement distanced itself from the young writer. In March 1926 it closed down Die Standarte. Juenger started the magazine again a month later however with the same name, but dropping the “Die“. Nevertheless, not all lines had been severed and Standarte was supported financially by several members of Der Stahlhelm. In the pages of Standarte on June 3rd 1926, Juenger made an appeal to all former soldiers to unite for the creation of a “Nationalist Workers’ Republic”. In August, Otto H<148>rsing, co-founder of the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot Gold, the Social Democrats’ security force, proposed to the government that the journal should be banned, which it was, but for only five months. Franz Seldte, the leader of Der Stahlhelm and still proprietor of the journal, took the opportunity to sack its leading editor, Helmut Franke. Juenger went with him. With Wilhelm Weiss the two launched another review, called Armenius. (Standarte, under different editorship, continued until 1929.) In 1927 Juenger moved from Leipsic to Berlin, where he made contact with the Buendisch youth. The Bunds were an attempt to unite the romantic spirit of the Wandervogel with an organization more permanent and hierarchical. Juenger became the leader (Schirmherr) of one of these youth groups. In 1927 Juenger was associated with the launching of yet another publication, Der Vormarsch (Advance) which was the brain-child of Captain Ehrhardt.

“Losing the War to Win the Nation”

At this time Juenger was subject to several literary and philosophical influences. There was a French fin de siecle influence in his early works, notably Der Kampf als innere Erlebnis also a kind of Baudelairian dandyism in Sturm, a very early work. Mohler draws a comparison between Juenger and the Barres of Roman de l’Energie nationale: in the works of both writers nationalism is a substitute for religion, a manner of enlargening and strengthening the soul, the result of a conscious choice, a factor which emerged as a result of the destruction of old norms in the wake of the Great War. The influence of Spengler and Nietzsche is also evident. In 1929, in an interview given to an English journalist, Juenger defined himself as a “disciple of Nietzsche”, stressing with approval the fact that Nietzsche was the first to challenge the fiction of an abstract universal man, by dividing mankind into the strong and the feeble. In 1922 Juenger read the first volume of Der Untergang des Abendlandes with great passion, but he was no passive disciple of Spengler, as we shall see. The experience of war, however, remained the strongest influence in Juenger’s writings. He distinguished between the Gegner (opponent) andFeind (enemy); it is because there was not an absolute enemy but only the opponent of the moment, that the Great War and war as such has something “holy” about it.

Another lesson which Juenger claimed to have learned was that “life is nourished by death” and that life, in its essence, is “indestructable”. The war had been lost but this defeat had a potentially positive aspect, according to Juenger. Formal defeat or victory is not the “bottom line” in war. The aim is not the be all and end all of struggle. The war had not been so much a war between nations as between a certain kind of man. As an epigraph to his book Aufbruch der Nation (National Reveille) published in 1930, Franz Schauwecker wrote “we needed to lose the war in order to win the nation”. Juenger had written in a similar vein. For Juenger after the Great War there could be “no going back”. The old roads led nowhere. He called the Great War an Umbruch, an irreparable break with the past. The war had provided a model for the peace. War has a profound significance and the sacrifice of millions must have a meaning but the meaning can not be so much rationalised as felt (geahnt). From 1926 onwards, Juenger appealed incessantly for a united front of nationalist groups and movements. At the same time he tried, without notable success, to change them. Nationalism should become revolutionary. From this perspective the crux of the national struggle was the struggle against liberalism. In Armenius and in Der Vormarsch he attacked the humanists who favoured an “anaemic” society, the cynics who wished to see the Great War as nothing but futility and madness. At the same time he opposed the sentimentality of conservative nationalism (“the cult of museums”) and distinguished between healthy neo-nationalism and the sentimentality of what he called “grand-daddy nationalism”. The nation is more than a country, it is an idea and Germany exists there where the idea of Germany fires the spirit.

In the April issue of Arminius Juenger took a nominalist position: for him there is no universal truth, no universal moral, no universal man with a just claim to equal rights. Value is found in the particular. While Voelkisch groups sought a return to the soil, Juenger on the contrary exalted the power of technics and repudiated the individual. Born of bourgeois rationality, technology was now going to turn on the spirit which had engendered it. As technology advances, so the individual will disappear. In the meantime the town had become the “front” in the national struggle and in Berlin representatives of many different currents of the Conservative Revolution met around Juenger, including the writer Ernst von Saloman, the Nietzschean Friedrich Hielscher, who was editor of Das Reich, the neo-conservatives August Winnig (whom Juenger met through Alfred Baeumler) and A.E. Guenther, co-editor with Wilhelm Stapel of Deutsches Volkstum, the national-Bolsheviks Ernst Niekisch and Karl Paetel and of course his own brother Friedrich Georg Juenger, who had become quite well known in his own right.

In April 1928 Juenger handed over editorship of Der Vormarsch to Hielscher, who was a close friend of his. (Among other things Hielscher was the coordinator of a European regionalist movement and the founder of a neo-Pagan church. In the Third Reich he was to hold an important position in the Ahnenerbe while maintaining contact with the “internal immigration”. He was arrested in September 1944 and thrown into prison and only escaped execution thanks to the special pleading of Wolfram Sievers, (most of whose writings, apart from an autobiography, have never been published.) In 1930 Juenger became, with Werner Lass, the editor of Die Kommenden, a point of contact with national-Bolsheviks, as these wrote regularly for the paper. He also wrote for Widerstand (Opposition) edited by Ernst Niekisch, whom he knew personally. For Niekisch the future man was collective man, who alone would be able to face up to the “murderous consequences” of technological discovery. The national movement and the communist movement had the same enemy: the bourgeois West. Although fascinated by Bolshevism, Juenger was at no time a national-Bolshevik. He and Lass left Die Kommenden in July 1931, Lass to found an out and out national-Bolshevik publication: Der Umsturz (Overthrow), but Juenger had not the least inclination to take part in this project, nor in the national-socialist movement. In an article written for Suedeutsche Monatshefte in September 1931 he included national-socialism among the nationalisms which were inspired by the past and therefore, according to him, tainted with liberal and bourgeois ideas. As Marcel Decombis noted in his work on Juenger published in 1943, “Juenger, the perfect Prussian officer, who subjects himself to the most intense self-discipline, could never submit again to a collectivity.” His brother evolved politically in much the same direction. At that time they went on a number of voyages to Southern Europe together. From 1929 onwards, Juenger spent less time writing for publications and more on writing books. In 1929 the first version of Das abenteurliche Herz (Adventurous Heart) was published, followed by Die totale Mobilmachung (Total Mobilisation) in 1931 and Der Arbeiter (The Worker) in 1932.

The Worker

The first part of the book revolves around the notion of what the writer called Gestalt (form, figure). This Gestalt is seen as a global type, of which the totality includes characteristics which can not be found in any of the separate constituent parts. It is at the root of sense, a supreme reality which gives sense to phenomena. Sense is not here intended to have exactly the meaning we associate with cause and effect, rather it is sense in being an imprint which marks a period in time and gives that period in time.. sense. Man here is the measure of all things. Gestalt is the “pre-formed power” (vorgeformte Macht) which only accedes to being to the extent that it is willed into being by man who feels its appeal. The Gestalt is not dependent on man to be what it is, but it does depend on man to assume the status of existence, which it endows with the dimesion of profundity. It can only be understood dialectically, for it encompasses many different aspects. It is at once unchanging and localised. Its relationship to history is complex: it is not so much the product of history as what permits history to take place. It determines historical movement. History does not bring forth historical types but is transformed through its interaction with them. (Juenger noted elsewhere that our epoch was rich in types but poor in great men.) History is the metaphysics of being. The Gestalt is beyond Good and Evil. Not only is it not subject to a morality, it alone makes morality possible. The same goes for Truth and Beauty. The role of the theorist is not therefore to judge a figure but instinctively to recognise it. To identify with it is to commit a revolutionary act.

What is the dominant form of our time? Work, according to Juenger. It is therefore in the figure of the Worker that Juenger claimed to see the Gestalt of the generation to come. Juenger does not mean work as the key to economic activity or work as the “law of humanity”, nor work as the consequence of original sin, nor does work here represent an “alienation”. Juenger uses the term “work” to describe all creation which aims at giving form in the world; it is the affirmation of power, the deployment of energy. Work is the means by which the modern world is totally mobilised, the expression of a special form of being. Science, love, art, faith, culture, war: all is Work; Work too the vibration of molecules and the force which drives the stars and planets. Work is not so much an activity as the will which is “at work” within an activity, the “will to will”, which is the creative force of history. The notion of the Worker as an economic creation is too restrictive and betrays the bourgeois reference frame of whoever sees Work in such a restrictive light. The Worker is not be confused with the proletariat, unless we conceive him as a “proletarian” within all classes. Juenger thus distinguishes sharply between the Worker’s State as he saw it and the Marxian notion of “the workers’ state”. Against the Marxist Arbeiterschaft (work force), Juenger opposed theArbeitertum, identification with work, the community of those dedicated to work. (This distinction was also made by August Winnig, notably in his Der Glaube an das Proletariat and Vom Proletariat zum Arbeitertum, but his stress was much more political in the practical sense of the word than Juenger’s.) But Juenger himself stressed that his work was not anti-Marxist. Marx had his place in an understanding of the concept of the Worker, but that place should not be exclusive. Marxism, “useful because corrosive”, had to be surpassed. Marx limited the notion of work to the economic field, but for Juenger work had a breadth which extended “from the atom to the galaxies”. Marx believed that the worker would one day be transformed into an artist. Juenger believed that the artist was being transformed into a worker.

The worker reveals himself by virtue of his power. He will dominate by virtue of his Will to Power, which is expressed through work, a work which succeedes in mobilising. The Gestalt represents the spirit of the world at a given period. The key to all is power, for behind the representations of spirit in the world are not pure ideas but matter. Contrary to what Hegel claimed, theory does not determine reality but on the contrary reality engenders ideas. Economy plays a secondary role for Juenger, as he underlined in an interview given to Le Monde (2oth June 1978). The figure of the Worker is metaphysical and in its fundamental character is not transformed. Juenger called the Worker a “titanic personage”. The antithesis of the Worker is the Bourgeois; for Juenger, to be anti-liberal is to be first and foremost anti-bourgeois. The Bourgeois too is a Gestalt which encapsulates a mode of life and thought, a scale of values, a state of mind, which can be found in all classes, not just the middle-classes. The Bourgeois has no metaphsical worth, he only reasons in a utilitarian manner. The Bourgeois wants to take as much as possible from life and give as little as possible. Above all else the Bourgeois is worried about safety. The Bourgeois is represented by the type of person who is afraid of life and is who is incapable of acting historically. The Bourgeois avoids all commitment to the decisive, the creative act. War and love, nature and death, all the elementary forces are “irrational” to him and do not belong to his society, for society, as he sees it, is the result of a voluntarily made and rationally conceived contract based on the principle of equality for all. Worker and Bourgeois are as different as dawn and dusk.

The advent of the figure of the Worker is linked to a new state of society which Juenger calls “total mobilisation” (totale Mobilmachung). This expression was clarified by Juenger in a long essay which served as a kind of preface to Der Arbeiter. It is the effects of the evolution of the techniques of war which heralds, in the most characteristic manner, entry into the era of total mobilisation. Since Clausewitz described the condition of “total war”, the situation had rapidly evolved. Especially from 1916, the spirit of progress and the development of the techniques of war went hand in hand. Technology dominates the scene more and more. The Great War thus marked the end of the era of chivalry and traditional heroic values. From his own experience in the trenches, Juenger had seen the evolution of war into the pitting of abstract material force against abstract material force. The troops become canon fodder. War is impregnated with the same spirit as that which created the machines. Technical instruction becomes more and more crucial for every soldier. “…the men who march at the head, the tank drivers, the pilots, the U-boat captains, are all accomplished technicians.” (Waeldchen 125) The technician then represents the modern state at war. The question must then be raised: in such a situation what meaning does the soldier’s sacrifice have? The answer lies in the notion of total mobilisation. At the same time as war becomes a technical undertaking, the traditional distinction between combattant and non-combattant breaks down. Even the notion of war and peace gives way to the reality of permanent global conflict. Even the pacifist has to be ready to fight for his beliefs! The decisive aspect of the new state of affairs is the fact that all are potentially involved in war and all are available for mobilisation. The capacity to mobilise becomes increasingly the key factor in the destiny of peoples. Modern war has become an aspect of Work. The world as we know it is transformed into a universal factory, a “Vulcan’s forge”. The world is now mobile and mobilised. The Great War therefore exceeds the French Revolution in historical importance, for it has brought forth a new man, the man with a hammer in his hand. Worker and Soldier become one and the same. The military front and the industrial front are the same. The Great War also witnessed the emergence of the collectivist era (Wirzeit) as opposed to the individualistic one (Ichzeit). The rural world is in decline, motorways are built, leisure becomes an industry, political parties blossom, the screen takes precedence over the stage, the photograph over the portrait, national planning becomes very important, the value of money is controlled, production is standardised, statistics and typologies abound, the “metallic” (male) or “cosmetic” (female) fixidness of the face, the restrictions on individual liberty brought about by automation, the convergence of effort towards economic objectives which exceed their own frame of reference, the collaboration of state and industry: these among other factors accompany the replacement everywhere of the individual by the uniform and typical. In Juenger’s eyes these factors are positive. His tone in evoking the power and importance of machines sometimes recalls Italian Futurism. The critic Henri Plard called Der Arbeiter “the richest and most provocative of his works”, in which is allied “an effectively and passionately reactionary ideology with a modernism which clears all the dead wood of whatever is not 100% up-to-date.” (Etudes Germaniques July-September 1979). The standardisation or uniformation of the world is taken as the bearing of a uniform. This is not a sign of decadence but a promise of the future and the precondition of the destruction of the Bourgeois type. The Worker must accelerate this process. The Worker arises as a result of the death of the individual. Only decomposition allows for recomposition at a higher level. The individual whose demise Juenger so joyously proclaims is not altogether identical with the individual person; rather it is the bourgeois individual, the Individuum, born of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, a creature struck from its roots, from its heritage, is in contrast with the Einzelne, the individual person, whose identity is situated in an “organic environment”. The Individuum is “most charming invention of burgeois sentimentality..a part of the mass, which is the contrary of a people.” So the individual is just “mass” in smaller letters. Work is indissociable from Liberty. Man puts most energy into something at a command. Liberty is a voluntary adhesion to a Gestalt in service to which the full capacity of the Worker is able to express itself. To be free means to take part, the will to be free is the will to work. Liberty presupposes a life filled with sense, an attachment rather than freedom from restraint. As a result of attaining liberty the Worker is able to realise his integration (Eingliederung) in the general structure of society through which the Worker is fully realised. Man is not to be considered as an individual but as an incarnation of Gestalt and attains liberty through participation in the attainment of the figure of which he is, as individual person, a representation. In the future society envisaged by Juenger, each person’s place will not be determined by birth, fortune, or rank, but by the degree of adhesion to the type of the Worker.

Clearly Juenger’s thought has gone way beyond drawing from the experience of war. When he speaks of the war of material forces he is not only making an observation concerning the technological evolution of war, he is pointing to the idea that the technical transformation of war has produced a rupture which affects the entire planet. This rupture marks the end of the rule of man or gods made in the image of man, and the emergence of the titanic force of the elemental in daily life. Ancient religions tell us that at the origin of civilizations there was a struggle between Gods and Titans. For millennia the Titans held the Gods in awe and kept their distance but now it is the Twilight of the Gods and the Giants are returning. They are returning by means of the immense force which technology has unleashed. Confronted with the unchaining of the elemental, all the old defences, old attitudes, old doctrines are withered. Anachronistic too are the traditional forms of political action. Defeat must be turned into victory. Life must be intensified and the Worker will prevail.

According to Julius Evola, “Juenger should be credited in this first stage of his thought, with having recognised the fatal error of thinking that all could be restored to what it was before, that the new world which was looming could be mastered or halted on the basis of a vision of a bygone era” (Oriente e Occidente Arche, Milan 1982 p.69) and, “man must become the instrument of the mechnical and yet at the same time master it, not only in the physical sense, but also spiritually. This is only possible in the context of a new human type…a being more the subject than the object, one who accepts those aspects of destruction which lead to a surmounting of individualism in favour of a new active impersonalism, towards a “heroic realism”.” (Il cammino del cinabro, Arche, Milan 1983 pp. 99 191-192). What is important for man, according to Juenger, is neither happiness nor wealth. It is to enter into a state of resonance with respect to the Figure which is the way to achieve determination, destiny, a discovery which endowes sacrifice with a meaning. The Worker considers the military esprit de corps as nothing exceptional: for him it is the discipline on which he bases his whole life and therein lies his innate superiority. The great force of heroic realism is to be able to face anything, even the certainty of failure with equananimity: nothing can shake the resolve of the Worker. This equananimity is not to be confused with fatalism, it does not preclude the will to action. On the contrary, it provides a lucidity which stimulates action. The key notion of movement, of not being passive, recalls Nietsche’s amor fati or Evola’s “riding the tiger”. Not life in itself is important but the nobility of life, that we can lead a life in the “grand style”. The Worker givesform to a chaotic world. The Worker is a demi-urge.

Whether one welcomes it or not, the Worker’s day will come. For Juenger force will solve many future problems and will resolve, in the most radical way, many of the tensions of society. The Worker must mobilise, that is to say, be prepared to act forcibly and to be mobile, swift to take advantage of the technical opportunities opening up, the source of the creation of the modern Worker in the first place. Only the Worker is capable of an authentic rapport with the “totalistic character of work”, of a genuine relationship with the machine. Being as revealed in the Worker as Gestalt and the essence of the machine is The Will to Power. Technics constitute not only the “symbol of the figure of the Worker” but also the “manner in which that figure mobilises the world”. And technology is not here to accelerate progress but to intensify power. Not only progress, but also the notion of the “infinite possibilities of technological development” are illusions. Technology will reach a point of perfection which will mark the furthest stage it can reach, and as with all form, its perfection is reached at the point that it is used to the maximum extent of its inherent potential. At this point there is a difference to be noted between Ernst Juenger and his brother, Friedrich Georg Juenger. The idea of technical perfection in the sense of achievement and fulfillment (Vollendung), is one which the latter examines critically in his writings but which Ernst Juenger sees in a positive light, arguing that one day technology, reaching its amplitude, its perfection, will be able to dominate the entire world, but that this can only be realised by the coming to power of the non-individualist Worker.

By rejecting the “myth of Progress”, Juenger denies that technology is neutral, at the service of everyone, or that it is either intrinsically liberating or intrinsically oppressive. Technology enslaves those who are not adequate to cope with it and the form of life which it ushers in. The bourgeois mentality, on the other hand, is terrified of the Golom which it has created but is unable to master. Technology has its own langauge which the Worker is equipped to speak, but not the Bourgeois. Technology is a formation of the elementary forces of the world. This is the end of individualism. The “individual” will become a slave to the machine. The question, already posed by Juenger inFeuer und Blut, is whether man will dominate or be dominated by, his own inventions. Although Juenger rejects the notion that biologicallyrace is important, but metaphysically technology calls forth a new elite and the will to form a new race (Wille zur Rassenbildung) and this new race must be “prudent, strong, shorn of equivocation, drunk with energy”. Art will then become the “putting into form” (Gestaltung) of the world of Work. The advent of the Worker will herald the end of individualism and of proletarianism. It will reject the utopias of the materialists and the idealists and will interpret the world in its own image. Marxism and the old religions will all disappear.

Just as technology can not be neutral, nor can the state. The supposed neutrality of the liberal bourgeois state is a sham. In opposition to parliamentary democracies and democratic socialists, Juenger opposes the “democracy of the state”, a society with a pyramidal structure founded on the Prussian principles of command and obedience, but in which the leader is not a despot but the “first servant, the first soldier, the first worker”. For the Worker liberty and obedience are one. This notion of the “total state” was distinguished by Evola from that of the “totalitarian state”, the first being supple, living, organic and marking the beginning of a cycle, the second being moribund, inflexible, mechanised, petrified and representing the end of a cycle. Juenger’s state was to be tripartite: the first level with an economic funtion and passively reflecting the Gestalt of the Worker; the second level with an administrative and instructive function and activelyreflecting the Gestalt of the Worker; the third level being the sovereign level, whose action would directly reflect the totality of Work and whose imperial authority would represent the Gestalt in its “pure” form. This tripartite system appears to be an adaption of an ancient model of a social scheme which to a certain extent was also reflected in the old German tripartite system of Staende.

In his work Die Totale Mobilmachung (Total Mobilisation) Juenger’s perspective was essentially national: only the German people was capable of “affronting” itself, of undertaking a mobilisation of itself. It is in this sense that Juenger saw something positive emerging from the war for Germany: it gave Germany the opportunity to “realise itself”. Mobilisation was to be mobilisation of everything which was German “and nothing else”. In Der Arbeiter, on the other hand, Juenger abandoned the typical nationalist position in favour of a universal perspective. In the future the nations would become “planning areas” later to be followed by the rule of the Worker over the entire planet. The instauration of the Worker would signal the end of Western nihilism, for which the bourgeois system was responsible. The sovereignity of the “grand style” could only be realised on a global level. Man has reached the point where he must choose between mastering the world or renouncing his humanity.

Book-review “The Black Book of Communism” (Dwight D. Murphey)

Friday, August 7th, 1970
The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression Stephane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panne, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartosek, Jean-Luc Margolin Trans. by Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer Harvard University Press 1999 
 If someone were to ask "What are the ten most important books to have on your bookshelf?," a strong argument could be made that this book must be included on the list - high praise, indeed. It merits so preeminent a position for a number of reasons. One, of course, is that the twentieth century can hardly be understood without a detailed realization of the brutalities of Communism in all its manifestations, worldwide. Those enormities rank among the central facts of the century and yet are little known. Such a background is needed, too, if world opinion is ever to move away from the double standard that has long considered Nazism an unmitigated evil but that has granted considerable leniency, often even indulgence or preference, to Marxism-Leninism. Many of the events of the past century, large and small, are understood only in the most warped fashion because of that moral, ideological skewing. There is also a less abstract, more humanly personal, reason: that the 85 to 100 million victims as estimated in this book cry out to scholars to be noticed. These are victims whose lives have vanished in much the same way as one "unperson" after another was airbrushed out of old Bolshevik photographs. There are even now few dramas, documentaries, museums, "survivors' testimonies," war crimes trials, or other acknowledgments that these tens of millions were once living, breathing human beings. When their lives ended, they fell off into a memory hole; and even the most elementary respect for human life requires that they not stay there permanently. The Black Book of Communism states its purpose as being "to paint a true picture of all the criminal aspects of the Communist world, from individual assassinations to mass murder." It devotes more than 200 of its 856 pages to the Soviet Union, about which it gives an indispensable history; but there is in turn a detailed chronicling of events in Spain, Poland, Central and Southeastern Europe, China, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Latin America, Africa and Afghanistan. It centers on the atrocities and does not aspire to be a complete history of the Communist regimes or movements in those places for example, its account of the Civil War in Russia after the Bolshevik coup omits any mention of Trotsky's role commanding battlefields from his train or of the intervention of foreign troops). Such a book is of value only if it is the work of credible scholars. That requirement is well-satisfied here. The authors are primarily French historians and specialists in Communism, although Andrzej Paczkowski is Polish and Karel Bartosek a Czech. They are all connected with the Centre d'Etude d'Histoire et de Sociologie du Communisme and its review Commamisme. We are told in the Foreword that "these researchers are former Communists or close fellow-travelers" (which itself has pluses and minuses, but will certainly add to their credibility among those who share the general assumption that intellect and objective scholarship come only from the Left). There is much internal evidence in the book of its objectivity, such as when it cites the varying estimates of the Soviet deportation of Poles without attempting to insist on one at the exclusion of the others. The work is informed by the information now available through the archives that have been made public in the formerly-Communist world. The records of the Gulag administration are now open, as are the Czech archives and those of the Stasi in the former East Germany. There will be more research to do in the future, since several important archives remain closed, such as the Russian Presidential archive, the Soviet foreign intelligence archive, and the Chinese and Vietnamese archives. Many of the documents are still classified about the repression of the Poles, and very little has been revealed about North Korea or about the vast death camps in western China. This reviewer experienced two phases in his reading of the Black Book. The first 500 pages held him spellbound, despite their horrific subject-matter; but then the continual accounts of executions, purges, politically-induced famines, tortures and rapes necessarily became wearisome, and he began to see the book more as an invaluable resource than as something to be devoured from front to back in a continuous reading. To say this is not to criticize the book, which had serious work to do, but is rather a commentary on the grisly subject matter. We might hope that the study of Communism's atrocities will not become set in cement, where certain totals become articles of faith. Consistently with the soundest intellectual tradition, there will be room for long-continued scholarship, necessarily with revised estimates. At present, there are wide variations in the estimates made. For example, the totals for those starved to death as a matter of state policy during Mao's Great Leap Forward (1959-1961) run from as "low" as 20 million to as high as 43 million; and the estimates of those killed during China's Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) vary from a "mere" 400,000 to as many as three million. Estimates of the number of deaths under Pol Pot in Cambodia are from 750,000 to 3.8 million. More exact detail is known about the Soviet Union, and we are told that there were from 10,000 to 15,000 summary executions in simply the two months of September and October, 1918, and that during the 14 months of the Great Terror in 193? and 1938, 1.8 million people were arrested, with 690,000 killed. I cite these figures only as illustration, since the Black Book contains countless others. The worldwide scope of this study is relevant to some important intellectual issues, and undermines some of the sophistries about Communism: There are those, for example, who have argued that Communism was not a coherent entity, and that the word is just a term of convenience to lump together a number of disparate movements. The fact, however, that terror-for-terror's-sake as a tool of social manipulation has been central to virtually all Communist regimes is too much a coincidence to be ignored. In addition to generalized terror, certain features have been recurrent: one-party systems, the centralization of economic planning, accelerated industrialization, the collectivization of agriculture, and anti-religious militancy. These things arose out of shared ideology and the ongoing efforts of the Comintern, the Cominform, the Soviet Union, Red China, Castro's Cuba, and others. Some adherents to Realpolitik such as de Gaulle have argued that Communist movements were really just disguised nationalism. This, too, is a reductionism, since it brushes aside too lightly the common features. If Communism were simply nationalism, why would the USSR have trained the MPLA's cadres in Angola; or Castro have provided guerrilla schools for them, as well as tens of thousands of his own soldiers? Why would the Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path") in Peru have sought to emulate Stalin, the Chinese Gang of Four, and Cambodia's Pol Pot? In addition, the Black Book continues the process of refuting the premise, prominently advanced by Khrushchev, that Communism in Soviet Russia started out benignly, but turned vicious with Stalin. Lenin, we are reminded, put into place all of the apparatus of the terror-state. It helps to read Lenin's 1918 telegram in which he ordered the hanging of 100 kulaks: "I mean hang publicly, so that people see it... Do all this so that for miles around people see it, understand it, tremble." The authors don't comment on it, but one fact that is mentioned alters the impression I had long held of Bukharin. I had thought that he was one Bolshevik, at least, who wanted Communism "with a human face." A few years ago, an academic colleague of mine, an American "academic Marxist," relished Bukharin for precisely this reason. It hardly comports with this when we are told that "Bukharin, after the execution of his old Party comrades Zinoviev and Kamenev, publicly declared: `I am so happy that they have been shot like dogs."' There is much to be learned from the Black Book's many details. It is interesting, for example, how many aspects of later Leftist revolutionary activity echoed early Communist experience. We remember the American New Left's call "not to trust anybody over thirty " There is resonance, then, when we are told that Nechaev, the blood-thirsty of forerunner of Lenin, "proposed the extermination of all Russians over twenty-five years old." We know, too, that China had "Red Guards" during the Cultural Revolution. It adds light to know that groups of armed workers in Russia in 1917 were also called "Red Guards." I had thought that the personality-denying process of public criticism, self accusation, confession and mass cruelty were somewhat distinctively Chinese; but in fact these same ingredients appear as part of "reeducation" in Communist Romania. Dadaistic ridiculousness was a successful comic technique of the American New Left, especially with Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. The Left has employed Dadaism many times, but I hadn't known of its use in Romania: "Some of the reeducators played the part of choirboys; others masqueraded as priests. Turcanu's liturgy was extremely pornographic... The Virgin Mary was called 'the Great Whore,' and Jesus `the cunt who died on the cross.' One seminarian undergoing reeducation and playing the role of a priest had to undress completely and was then wrapped in a robe stained with excrement. Around his neck was hung a phallus made of bread and soap...." Rubin and Hoffman weren't original geniuses of street theater, just leftists in a long-established mold. To mention just some of what the book tells us runs the risk of trivializing the vastness of its account. It is a bit like focussing on a shrub or a canyon or two while driving past the enormous mesas of Utah or New Mexico. The many details are themselves full of significance, each deserving much more elaboration in separate works, but the chronicle as a whole is just as indispensable. [The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Fall 2000]

New Views of Nietzsche (Robert Steuckers)

Friday, August 7th, 1970

One hundred years ago Thus Speak Zarathustra appeared. The most celebrated work of Nietzsche, it has been read and cited by even moderately educated people. The German philosopher has a stormy reputation due to his tirades against Christianity and his aristocratic rejection of conventional moral views. Nietzsche provokes all kinds of reactions. Each reader may have his own Nietzsche, drawing from him a cherished opinion to be worn as a colored badge with the hope of shocking ordinary folk. And in fact in the last one hundred years, everything and anything has been said about Nietzsche.

This absence of professionalism and this facile subjectivism have produced occasionally disastrous consequences. From the beginning Nietzsche’s thought has defied systematic construction. Even now the most memorable characteristics of his pioneering work are his ferocious fulminations, his deconstruction, and the acrid stench left by those who have raided his texts. One cannot hope to say finally what Nietzsche really meant. But it may be possible to find a unifying thread. This requires ignoring abusive and merely subjectivist interpretations while highlighting those of true value. The renewed interest in Nietzsche’s works has produced a vast body of relevant literature, much of it critical.

In June 1981 Rudolf Augstein, editor of Der Spiegel, stated without qualification that Hitler was the man of action who put Nietzsche’s thought into practice. The journalist took for proof the falsifications of some of Nietzsche’s manuscripts by his sister Elisabeth Nietzsche-Forster, who had shaken Hitler’s hand in the twilight of her life. This argument is perhaps a bit thin in view of the many other writings that his sister did not doctor.

Augstein is concerned not just about Nietzsche’s revival by a young generation of German philosophers but also by the progressive abandonment among German intellectuals of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School for Social Research. For Germans educated in the wake of “de-Nazification,” the Frankfurt School’s attack on bourgeois values, though often couched in arcane phrases, represented an effort to come to terms with the German past. Nonetheless, Frankfurt’s total rejection of all thought that affirms a given fact has led to an impasse. Negativity cannot be an end in itself; no one can progress intellectually or artistically through a permanent process of negation.

For Jurgen Habermas, the last important representative of the Frankfurt School, the Real is bad in that it does not include from the start all the Good existing in ideal form. Confronted by the imperfect Real, one feels compelled to maximize the Good, to moralize ad extremum in order to minimize the force of evil encrusted in a real world marked by incompleteness. Imperfect reality must call forth a redeeming revolution. But this revolution runs the risk of affirming and shaping another more or less imperfect real thing. Habermas rejects great global revolutions that initiate new eras. Instead he prefers sporadic micro-revolutions that inaugurate ages of permanent corrections, small injections of the Good into the sociopolitical tissue inevitably tainted by the Bad. But the world of political philosophy cannot rest content with this constant tinkering, this dogged adherence to reform without limit, this social engineering without substance. The suspicion of Nazism weighing heavily on Nietzscheism and the impossibility of keeping philosophy at the level of permanent negation make it necessary to reject the obsession with the proto-Nazi Nietzsche and the Frankfurt School’s negative attitude toward any given.

Nietzsche and Socialism 

Nietzsche certainly had his share of Nazi interpreters. Philosophers who fellow-traveled with the Nazis often made kind references to his thought. Yet recent scholarship shows that Nietzsche found not only Nazi admirers but also socialist and leftist ones. In Nietzsche in German Politics and Society 1890-1918 (1983), the British Professor R. Hinton Thomas demonstrates the close relationship between Nietzsche and German socialism. Thomas deals with Nietzsche’s impact in Imperial Germany on social democratic circles, on anarchists and feminists, and on the youth movement. This produced, on balance more resolute enemies of the Third Reich than Nazi cadres. Thomas shows that Nietzsche helped shape a libertarian ideology during the rise of the German social democratic movement. At the urging of August Bebel, the famed German socialist, the infant Social Democratic Party in 1875 adopted the Gotha Program, which sought to achieve redistributionist aims through legal means. In 1878 the government enacted anti-socialist laws, which curbed the party’s activities. In 1890, with the Erfurt Program, the party took on a harder revolutionary cast in conformity with Marxist doctrine. Social democracy subsequently oscillated between strict legalism, also known as “revisionism” or “reformism” because it accepted a liberal capitalist society, and a rhetorical commitment to revolution accompanied by demands for far-reaching changes.

According to Thomas, this second tendency remained a minority position but incorporated Nietzschean elements. A faction of the party, led by Bruno Wille, ridiculed the powerlessness of reformist social democrats. This group, which called itself Die Jungen (The Youths), appealed to grass-roots democracy, spoke of the need for more communication within the party, and ended up rejecting its rigid parent. Wille and his friends mocked the conformism of party functionaries, great and small, and the “cage” constituting organized social democracy. The party’s stifling constraints subdued the will and thwarted individual self-actualization. Die Jungen exalted “voluntarism,” or the exercise of will, which they associated with true socialism. This emphasis on will left little place for the deterministic materialism of Marxism, which the group described as an “enslaving” system.

Kurt Eisner, the leader of the revolutionary socialist Bavarian Republic, devoted his first book in 1919 to the philosophy of Nietzsche. Though he criticized the “megalomania” that he found in Thus Spake Zarathustra, he also praised its aristocratic ideals. The aristocratic values found in Nietzsche, he said, had to be put at the service of the people, not treated as ends in themselves. Gustav Landauer (1870-1919), another founder of the Bavarian “Red Republic,” emphasized Nietzschean voluntarism in his training of political revolutionaries. Landauer’s original anarchistic individualism became more communitarian and populist during the course of his political career, approaching the folkish, nationalist thinking of his enemies. Landauer died in the streets of Munich fighting the soldiers of the Freikorp, a group of paramilitary adventurers who were classified as “rightist” but who shared much of Landauer’s outlook.

Contrary to a later persistent misconception, Nietzsche aroused suspicion on the nationalist Right at the end of the nineteenth century. According to Thomas, this was because Nietzsche mocked many things German (which offended the pan-Germanists), was generally contemptuous of politics, had no enthusiasm for nationalism, and fell out with the composer Richard Wagner, a fervent and anti-Semitic German nationalist.

Nietzsche as a Naturalist 

Nietzsche’s vitalist concepts and naturalist vocabulary may account for his early support on the European Left and for his later popularity on the non-Christian Right. Nietzsche’s emphasis on will and his affirmation of an ethic of creativity have had diverse appeal. In his concise work, Helmut Pfotenhauer assesses Nietzsche’s legacy from the point of view of physiology, a term with a naturalistic connotation. This word appears frequently in Nietzsche’s work in the phrase Kunst als Physiologie, art as physiology.

The great French writer Balzac, who coined the phrase “physiology of marriage,” said about this neologism: “Physiology was formerly the science dealing with the mechanism of the coccyx, the progress of the fetus, or the life of the tapeworm. Today physiology is the art of speaking and writing incorrectly about anything.” In the nineteenth century the term physiology was associated with a type of popular literature such as the garrulous serials in daily newspapers. Physiology was intended to classify the main features of daily life. Thus there was a physiology of the stroller or of the English tourist pacing up and down Paris boulevards. In that sense physiology has some limited relationship to the zoological classifications of Buffon or Linnaeas. In his Comedie humaine, Balzac draws a parallel between the animal world and human society. “Political zoology” is used by various nineteenth-century writers, including Gustave Flaubert and Edgar Allen Poe. Nietzsche was aware of the literary and scientific usage of physiology. He noted that the physiological style was invading universities and that the vocabulary of his time was embellished with terms drawn from biology. One wonders why Nietzsche resorted to the term physiology when he believed that it was often used carelessly.

In Pfotenhauer’s view, Nietzsche had no intention of giving respectability to the pseudoscientific or pseudo-aesthetic excesses of the “physiologists” of his day. His intention, as interpreted by Pfotenhauer, was to challenge an established form of aesthetics. He constructed the expression “physiology of the art,” insofar as the arts were conventionally approached as mere objects of contemplation. From Nietzsche’s perspective, artistic productivity is an expression of our nature and ultimately of Nature itself. Through art, Nature becomes more active within us.

By using the term physiology Nietzsche was making a didactic point. He celebrated the exuberance of vital forces, while frowning on any attempt to neutralize the vital processes by giving a value to the average. In other words, Nietzsche rejected those sciences that limited their investigations to the averages, excluding the singular and exceptional. Nietzsche though that Charles Darwin, by limiting himself to broad classes in his biology, favored the generic without focusing on the exceptional individual. Nietzsche saw physiology as a tool to do for the individual confronting existential questions what Darwin had accomplished as a classifier of entire phyla and species. He attempted to analyze clinically the struggle of superior individuals for self-fulfillment in a world without inherent metaphysical meaning.

The Death of God 

“God is dead” is an aphorism identified with Nietzsche. Nietzsche believed that, together with God, all important ontological and metaphysical systems had died. Only the innocence of human destiny remained, and he did not want it to be frozen in some “superior unity of being.” Recognizing the reign of destiny, he thought, involves certain risks. In the river of changing life, creative geniuses run the risk of drowning, of being only fragmentary and contingent moments. How can anyone gladly say “yes” to life without an assurance that his achievements will be preserved, not simply yielded to the natural rhythms of destiny? Perhaps the query of Silene to King Midas is well-founded: “Is this fleeting life worth being lived? Would it not have been better had we not been born?” Would it not be ideal to die as quickly as possible?

These questions pick up the theme of Arthur Schopenhauer, the famous philosopher of pessimism. The hatred of life that flowed from Schopenhauer’s pessimism was unsatisfactory to Nietzsche. He believed that in an age of spiritual confusion the first necessity was to affirm life itself. This is the meaning of “the transvaluation of all values” as understood by Pfotenhauer. Nietzsche’s teachings about the will were intended to accomplish the task of reconstructing values. The creative exercise of will was both an object of knowledge and an attitude of the knowing subject. The vital processes were to be perceived from the point of view of constant creativity.

The Superman

Through the abundance of creative energy, man can assume divine characteristics. The one who embraces his own destiny without any resentment or hesitation turns himself into an embodiment of that destiny. Life should express itself in all its mobility and fluctuation; immobilizing or freezing it into a system was an assault on creativity. The destiny that Nietzsche urged his readers to embrace was to be a source of creative growth. The philosopher was a “full-scale artist” who organized the world in the face of chaos and spiritual decline. Nietzsche’s use of physiology was an attempt to endow vital processes with an appropriate language. Physiology expressed the intended balance between Nature and mere rationality.

Myth, for Nietzsche, had no ethnological point of reference. It was, says Pfotenhauer, the “science of the concrete” and the expression of the tragedy resulting from the confrontation between man’s physical fragility (Hinfalligkeit) and his heroic possibilities. Resorting to myth was not a lapse into folk superstition, as the rationalists believed it to be. It was rather an attempt to see man’s place within Nature.

Pfotenhauer systematically explored the content of Nietzsche’s library, finding “vitalist” arguments drawn from popular treatments of science. The themes that riveted Nietzsche’s attention were: adaptation, the increase of potential within the same living species, references to vital forces, corrective eugenics, and spontaneous generation. Nietzsche’s ideas were drawn from the scientific or parascientific speculations of his time and from literary, cultural, and artistic tracts. He criticized the imitative classicism of some French authors and praised the profuse style of the Baroque. In the philosopher’s eyes, the creativity of genius and rich personalities had more value than mere elegant conversation. Uncertainty, associated with the ceaseless production of life, meant more to him than the search for certainty, which always implied a static perfection. On the basis of this passion for spiritual adventure he founded a “new hierarchization of values.” The man who internalized the search for spiritual adventure anticipated the “superman,” about whom so much has been said. Pfotenhauer’s Nietzsche is made to represent the position that the creative man allies himself with the power of vital impulse against stagnant ideas, accepting destiny’s countless differences and despising limitations. Nietzschean man does not react with anguish in the face of fated change.

Nietzsche had no desire to inaugurate a worry-free era. Instead, he responded to the symptoms of a declining Christian culture by criticizing society from the standpoint of creative and heroic fatalism. This criticism, which refuses to accept the world as it is, claims to be formative and affirmative: it represents a will to create new forms of existence. Nietzsche substituted an innovative criticism affirming destiny for an older classical view based on fixed concepts. Nietzsche’s criticism does not include an irrational return to an a historic and unformed existence. Nietzsche, as presented by Pfotenhauer, constructs his own physiology of man’s nature as a creative being.

Robert Steuckers is the editor-in-chief of the Belgian journal Orientations and has written on European fascism and the evolution of Nietzsche as a thinker.

[The World And I (New York), May, 1987]

The Future of the West (Oswald Spengler)

Friday, August 7th, 1970

from The Decline of The West, 1922

The future of the West is not a limitless tending upwards and onwards for all time towards our presents ideals, but a single phenomenon of history, strictly limited and defined as to form and duration, which covers a few centuries nd can be viewed and, in essentials, calculated from available precedents. With this enters the age of gigantic conflicts, in which we find ourselves today. It is the transition from Napoleonism to Caesarism, a general phase of evolution, which occupies at least two centuries and can be shown to exist in all Cultures. The Chinese call it Shan-Kwo, the “period of the Contending States.” In the Gracchan revolution, which was already [133 B.C.] heralded by a first Servile War, the younger Scipio was secretly murdered and C. Gracchus openly slain—the first who as Princeps and the first who as Tribune were political centers in themselves amidst a world become formless. When, in 104 B.C. the urban masses of Rome for the first time lawlessly and tumultuously invested a private person, Marius, with Imperium, the deeper importance of the drama then enacted is comparable with that of assumption of the mythic Emperor-title by the ruler of Ch’in in 288 B.C..

The place of the permanent armies as we know them will gradually be taken by professional forces of volunteer war-keen soldiers; and from millions we shall revert to hundreds of thousands. But ipso facto this second century will be one of actually Contending States. These armies are not substitutes for war—they are for war, and they want war. Within two generations it will be they whose will prevails over all the comfortables put together. In these wars of theirs for the heritage of the whole world, continents will be staked—India, China, South Africa, Russia, Islam called out, new technics and tactics played and counter-played…. The last race to keep its form, the last living tradition, the last leaders who have both at their back, will pass through and onward, victors.

The idealist of the early democracy regarded popular education as enlightenment pure and simple—but it is precisely this that smooths the path for the coming Caesars of the world. The last century [the 19th] was the winter of the West, the victory of materialism and scepticism, of socialism, parliamentarianism, and money. But in this century blood and instinct will regain their rights against the power of money and intellect. The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy, of humanitarianism and freedom, is nearing its end. The masses will accept with resignation the victory of the Caesars, the strong men, and will obey them. Life will descend to a level of general uniformity, a new kind of primitivism, and the world will be better for it…..

The Challenge Facing the West (Oswald Spengler)

Friday, August 7th, 1970

The Great Challenge Facing the West
Oswald Spengler, Der Mensch und die Technik (Munich: C.H. Beck: 1931), pages 86-89.

Today more or less everywhere — in the Far East, India, South America, South Africa — industrial regions are in being, or coming into being, which, owing to their low scales of wages, confront us with a deadly competition. The unassailable privileges of the white nations have been thrown away, squandered, betrayed. The others have caught up with their instructors. Possibly — with the cunning of the colored races and the over-ripe intelligence of their ancient civilizations — they have surpassed them.

Where there is coal, petroleum or water-power, there a new weapon can be forged against the heart of Faustian [Western] civilization. The exploited world is beginning to take its revenge on its masters. The countless hands of the colored races — at least as clever, and far less demanding — will shatter the economic organization of the whites at its foundation. The accustomed luxury of the white worker, in contrast to that of the coolie, will be his doom. The labor of the white is itself becoming superfluous. The huge masses of men centered in the Northern coal areas, the great industrial works, the capital invested in them, whole cities and districts, threaten to succumb to the competition. The center of gravity of production is steadily shifting away from them, especially given that even the colored races’ respect for the whites came to an end with the [First] World War. This is the real and final basis of the unemployment that prevails in the white countries. It is no mere crisis, but the beginning of a catastrophe …

Faced as we are with this destiny, there is only one world-outlook that is worthy of us, that which has already been mentioned as the Choice of Achilles — better a short life, full of deeds and glory, than a long life without content. Already the danger is so great, for every individual, every class, every nation, that to cherish any illusion whatever is deplorable. The march of time cannot be halted; there is no question of prudent retreat or clever renunciation. Only dreamers believe there is a way out. Optimism is cowardice.

We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who died at his post during the eruption of Vesuvius because someone forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one that can not be taken from a man.

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